Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish… [but] The LORD will reign forever. | Psalm 146:3-4, 10
November 8th is approaching quickly. Before we even begin to think and pray about politics, we must remind ourselves that we serve the King of Kings who reigns over all. Any human ruler is a ruler under the authority of the one True God whether they know it or not.
We should care about the outcomes of elections, as God has called us to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf” (Jeremiah 29:7). How should we pray for the welfare of our city, state, and nation? Here are five suggestions to use as starting points as you pray in the days and weeks to come.
1. Pray for politicians to love people more than power or parties.
The love of power, control, or influence unfortunately motivates many who work both in the public sphere. When getting re-elected is at stake, it is tempting for politicians to do what gets them re-elected, rather than do what is right. Politicians who love their neighbor will do what is right even if it costs them influence and tenure.
Similarly, our nation is increasingly becoming politically divided with very little “across the aisle” dialogue taking place. What if politicians were more devoted to serving than they were to sticking it to the “enemy”? What if compromise and collaboration weren’t seen as capitulation? Let’s pray for politicians who are willing to sacrifice partisanship and power for love.
2. Pray for politicians to want to serve, listen to, and advocate for the poor and marginalized, not only the wealthy and privileged.
Political campaigns are mostly funded by wealthy people. There is therefore added incentive and pressure for politicians to serve the interests of wealthy people in order to secure future campaign donations for themselves or for their party. When it comes to serving those who have little power there is much less opportunity for quid pro quo. We must pray for politicians who will serve the interests of all people, not just the wealthy, but especially those who are voiceless.
3. Pray for politicians and judges who will preserve what is good and punish what is evil.
One of the God-given roles of the government is that it would encourage what is good and discourage what is evil (cf Romans 13:1-7). The government must have some moral vision of what constitutes “the good life” if they are going to do this and as Christians we believe that life is defined by God and given to us in the Scriptures. Pray for morally discerning judges and politicians who are servants for good and punishers of evil. Pray that what matters to God would matter to our leaders: “The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” Psalm 147:7-9).
4. Pray for people everywhere to trust in Jesus.
Calling the unbelieving world into moral conformity is not the mission of God, but working against injustice is. Political reform will always need to happen: when sinful people write sinful laws and create sinful systems, Godly people must work to undo those political injustices. However, we should not place our hope in political processes like many have been tempted to do.
In this age of anxiety we must bear witness to the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) rather than be like children who are tossed to and fro by every wind of breaking news, human cunning, and deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). We must call the world to repent and believe in the gospel. If we think we are going to accomplish renewal in the world without hearts being renovated by the work of the Holy Spirit and the breaking in of the Kingdom of God we are kidding ourselves. Pray that our neighbors and politicians would be converted to the God of grace who conquered the grave.
5. Pray for yourself; that your heart would remain humble and hopeful.
This election season (and the last fifteen years in general) have contributed to an apocalyptic attitude: “If my candidate doesn’t win, we are DONE!” This leads to an enormous amount of partisan hostility that has shamefully caused all types of division within the body of Christ. This idolatry is something that Christians everywhere should be mourning and repenting of. It is profoundly arrogant to believe that our votes will usher in or prevent the end of the world.
It is easy to become prideful during election seasons — “those people who don’t agree with me are stupid” or “people who disagree with me aren’t really Christians.” Similarly, it is easy to despair and deny that there is hope — “nothing will change” or “all of this is pointless.” We must pray that God would keep us humble and hopeful in this season.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God. | Psalm 43:5