It seems that everyone is frustrated about the recent government shutdown. We the people wonder why our leaders can’t seem to work together. And our leaders seem to be focused on blaming the other side for the mess. As I write this, there is not even a glimmer of hope on the horizon that an agreement can be reached.
So how are Christ followers to respond to this? Some of us prefer to ignore the discussion entirely, choosing a silent cynicism. Others choose to read the political editorials and watch the various pundits on television, which only increase our blood pressure. We feel a growing anger.
But there is another response—one that I’m guessing most of us who are Christ followers have not embraced. Paul writes of this response in I Timothy 2:1 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases our God and Savior.”
This is no trivial or flippant thing. Paul is urging us to do this—to earnestly pray for our leaders, interceding on their behalf, praying for God to intervene. He tells us that this is good and is pleasing to God, and also that it results in blessing to us in terms of our being able to live peacefully and to live godly lives in our country.
So why don’t we do this? Here are a few hunches: One, I’m not sure we believe that prayer would make any difference on something of such a grand scale. This is a faith issue, isn’t it? Do we really believe that the God who spoke creation into being, the God who sent Jesus to reconcile the world to Himself and to each other, the God who calmed the sea…. is able to do this? If we did believe prayer would make a dfference, we would do it.
A second hunch I have regarding why we often don’t apply Paul’s command is this: We are often so caught up in the polarizing dialog of politics and are not wanting the other side to “win”. We don’t want THEIR agenda furthered—but Paul doesn’t give us any out on this one. He urges us to pray for our leaders….not just the ones we like. I find it interesting that when George Bush was President I regularly received emails urging Christians to pray for him. I have yet to receive any email urging the same for President Obama. Again God doesn’t command us to have selective praying for our leaders, depending on their political party, etc.
So how might we pray for our leaders in the midst of this shutdown? Here are a few ideas:
1. Pray for wisdom—that God would give wisdom to them to find ways to move forward.
2. Pray for humility—that they would have the humility to stop blaming each other and instead to explore ways to compromise. Pray that they might have the humility to initiate these dialogs rather than waiting for the other side.
3. Pray for reconciliation and dialog to occur—that they would choose face to face dialog rather than throwing stones at each other via speeches.
So how about we spend some time praying about these things this next week and see what happens?