Seasons have a way of shaping the content of our prayers. If in a season of crisis, our prayers typically include asking the Lord to either avert the crisis or walk with us through it. If in a season of tragedy or grief, we usually pray that the Lord provide comfort and peace. If in a season of bliss, our prayers typically are rich in thanksgiving and praise. But what about a political season like the one we are in now?
What kind of prayers do you think people, especially Christians, are lifting up? Obviously, I cannot say with certainty what people are or aren’t praying. I can, through browsing the pages of social media and media outlets, make an educated guess. There are some believers praying for their particular candidate to win. Some are quoting the Psalms, asking the Lord to comfort them in their distress. Some are praying that voters—especially those of a Christian persuasion—have a change in hearts and minds of whom they will vote for.
In all honesty—although I would classify myself as a politically engaged person—I find myself crestfallen (deflated) and heartbroken in this political season. Our country has collided with the present future teeming with ethnic, racial, political, religious, moral, ideological, philosophical, and political diversity. As a result, the collision leaves our United States not so united, but rather fragmented, fractured, and fearful.
But if this wasn’t disheartening enough, I’m afraid that the American church may be no different.
Instead of serving as a doctor suturing the national wound of division, the disunity and fragmentation within the American church (especially Evangelicalism) has sliced open the divisive wound even more.
In other words, instead of serving as the bonding agent that enters into the brokenness and pain bringing healing and restoration, many believers and sects of Christianity—by their words and posture towards others—have, from my perspective, intensified the brokenness and pain that exists from division and fragmentation.
This leads me to four things I am praying for during this political season. Here they are:
1) Unity. For my fellow believers, think about it, if we find it difficult to agree on secondary and tertiary theological matters, what makes us think we can agree on political parties, politicians, and policies? Yet we are called to be unified. In fact, Jesus prayed in John 17, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17: 11). We must remember that unity is not uniformity. When believers attempt to create uniformity they usually incite division and cause disunity.
So my prayer is that believers would seek to be unified and remember that while there may be multiple parties, politicians, and policy positions, “There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4–6). I also pray that believers will work towards unity by speaking wholesome words of encouragement not fracturing ones of division, and will embody a disposition that can agree to disagree and yet worship side by side in complete harmony.
2) Witness. When Christians enter the muck and mire—the mudslinging—of American politics they become part of the dirty laundry in a dirty world that desperately wants to be clean. Participation in such behavior is off-putting not attractive. In addition, when we fail to love and show grace, even in an arena where I don’t know if those two words exists, we distort our gospel witness. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about American politics (and I’m sure global politics) that brings out the worst in people, even Christians.
So my prayer is that the church would be salt and light in a world filled with tastelessness and darkness; that Christians would radiate the eternal light of the glory of King Jesus even as they engage in the temporal realm of politics; and rather than engaging in behavior or activism that builds barriers to effective gospel witness, believers would engage in such a way that builds bridges to those who are far from God.
3) Peace. At some point in this political season many people will be disappointed and discouraged. Why? Because their person or party will lose. As believers, while you may be disappointed or discouraged that your man (or woman) didn’t win, hopefully you will not be downcast or depressed—or better yet angry and bitter. Why? Because your hope isn’t in politicians, politics, policies, or government, but in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Jesus Christ—the King of Glory—purchased our hope through his shed blood and resurrected life, and has sent His ambassadors (the church) to preach the good news that brings great peace!
So my prayer is that believers will be at peace with whatever happens because they trust in the Lord and His sovereignty, and that they will seek to be people of peace who share and show the good news of Jesus Christ.
4) Dignity and Respect for All. Dignity and respect for others is conceived from a love for God and a love for others. Once birthed, dignity and respect is manifested in our words and our behavior towards others. The Apostle Paul encourages believers:
- “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another and tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:29–32).
- “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6).
So my prayer is that the words, social media posts, and engagement with opposing political views from Christians will be wholesome and holy—displaying a dignity and respect for all. I pray that believers will not succumb to the temptation to mudsling or repost mudslinging posts or articles that tear down rather than build up.
As you can see I’m praying more for a faithful presence in the lives of believers and in the corporate life of the church. The reality is, I’m not as concerned for the personal vote one casts as I am for a gospel-centered life one lives. Sure, I want people to make an informed, educated, and prayerful decision about the candidate they will vote for and the direction of our country.
However, for me, the most important thing is that Christians live a life that displays the greatest decision they have ever made—namely to follow King Jesus, the God who ransomed and redeemed them—and a life that demonstrates the belief and hope that America is not their final destination but the consummated Kingdom of God.
In closing, as we walk through this heated, nasty, and divisive political season, may the church, the people of God, rise above the fragmented fray of American politics and endorse unity rather than uniformity; may believers give radiant witness to their Rescuer and Redeemer rather than their political hero or their national savior; may believers rest in Christ’s sovereignty and seek to be at peace with whatever happens and to be peace by sharing and showing the gospel; and may those who profess Christ treat all people (regardless of party or policy) with dignity and respect—even if you think the person or persons don’t possess dignity and respect for others, and are your opponent, enemy, and a dirty, rotten scoundrel.
In doing these things, I truly believe the church will have a greater potential of being a blessing to all regardless of one’s political party, class, ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, religious belief, or ideology. In short, may the Lord be glorified and people be blessed by our politicking.