HOW TO PRAY DURING ELECTIONS
- Does the fact that God is in control strip away responsibility for our choices? (Ray Hollenbach)
- The central calling of community is to connect, not to disrupt, to release something powerful from within one person into the life of another that calls forth the goodness in another's heart (Larry Crabb)
- People are still ‘earthen vessels’ who will disappoint and even sometimes ignore or betray you when their own self interests are threatened (John Stanko)
- We are secure, not because we hold tightly to Jesus, but because He holds tightly to us (R.C. Sproul)
- When Christians make this world our home, we become more like the world than the world becomes like us (Jim Denison)
TEXT: James 5:17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
Ezekiel 22:30 I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
Traversing through political campaigns is like living on the battlefield, where some defend their beliefs, while pointing out the weaknesses of others. Fear and panic as what seemed to be an unfathomable outcome a few months ago seems like it could actually be a possibility. The human desire to be in control, while accepting the reality that one is not in charge, causes deep fear. The last mile of the way can have increased fear, worry, and helplessness as one realizes that what one fears may actually take place. The temptation to desire and pray that one’s will is done should be numbed by realization that as a Christian you are an agent of the kingdom of God. Be careful that you do not just speak words out of tired, frightened feeling. ‘God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few’. God is looking for someone who can stand in the gap on behalf of the people. As any campaign period comes to an end and votes are cast and counted, the prayer of one who knows God is for what will make a difference.
Campaign period is truly battle time and people get emotionally wounded. There is a deep ache in the heart that cries out for God’s mercy and a longing to heal our land. Like Isaiah there is a cry, ‘“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips’ (Isaiah 6:5). Exaggeration of what is negative, and ignoring the commandment ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor’ (Exodus 20:16) increase uncleanliness in the land. Fault finding culture can make an angel look like a demon. The Christian is the one with power to connect with heaven where healing, security and hope flows from. In God’s design, He has chosen to give human beings a chance to cultivate an attitude of humility and dependence on Him. Prayer is the cord of connection to God’s powerhouse. In the time of King Ahab’s idolatry, the word of God went to ‘a man like us’, Elijah, to close heavens and later to open the heavens through prayer. Even today, honest, fervent prayer is still effective. Fervent prayer is figuring out what God wants and asking him for it. Through joy, fears and disappointments, Christ should be enthroned and that is what gives peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). The knowledge and reverence of God is what makes a Christian not be too quick to say whatever one feels or wished to happen.
WHAT A CHRISTIAN SHOULD BEWARE OF DURING AS ELECTIONS DRAW NEAR
No Christian is so strong that the enemy would keep off. Life on earth is a continuous battle between faith, fear and doubt. According to C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, the stronger a person’s faith, the more likely the person will be subjected to attack by doubt. Doubt is part of Satan's strategy for paralyzing and crippling the believer’s faith and preventing him/her from being used by God. The good news is that things will not remain the way they are forever. ‘The night is nearly over; the day is almost here’ (Romans 13: 12).
God is holy and His standards do not change. The concern of the Christian is that biblical standards on truth, justice, life, freedom, and personal integrity are upheld. Look at the issues through the written word of God, not media or friends’ views, however legitimate. Consider how support of your preferred presidential candidate affects the image of Christianity in the larger culture and in relation to the second coming of Christ. Irrespective of your political leaning, it is important to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Never lose sight of the fact that the most important election of our lifetime is the choice to be ruled by Christ. That is what will enable one to move from caution to courage that determines to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5). Though voting is a fairly secular process, Christians are like Daniel in Babylon whose actions in an earthly government were deeply influenced by his knowledge of God. God’s straightening of the path can be different from our expectation.
SUGGESTIONS OF HOW TO PRAY FOR THE UPCOMING ELECTION
The Lord is counting on the fervent prayer of a righteous person. ‘For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’ (2 Chronicles 16:9). The prayer should begin by repentance on behalf of the nation and the uncleanliness that has taken place in the campaign. Pray that there is a spirit of repentance and turning to God who has the best interest in the welfare of the people and the land. It is God’s presence that disables the plans that are outside of His will from being realized. There are evil forces and only prayer to God who scatters the wicked is really needed. The existence of evil and suffering is the perennial challenge facing those who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God (Jim Denison). There are evil people who cannot rest until they do evil. ‘Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.5 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble‘(Proverbs 4:14-16). On the other hand, When God’s blessing is on the land and its people, there is security because no other plan can succeed. Those God has blessed have a cover and so no one can curse them. ‘How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced?’ (Numbers 23:9). It is through genuine prayer, not adviser to God, that we remain within God’s boundaries and protection. That is the reason we need to pray for our nation. If your country is not going through elections, obey Jeremiah 29:7 ‘But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’ Pray as a neighbor.
Independent electro process – To have the necessary facilities for the election to be free and fair. To be free of interference by those who would want to manipulate the outcome of the elections. The personnel including security of the officers as they travel to different parts of the country, renewed strength as they work beyond normal working hours and determination to do what is right. Ask for the disabling of anyone who might try to unjustly and unfairly change the outcome of the voting. ‘Cursed is anyone who leads the blind astray on the road’ (Deuteronomy 28:18).
Candidates – It takes courage to present oneself to be chosen out of many as it puts one on the limelight and attacks. Pray that they do not internalize negative comments aimed at discrediting them and that they have a forgiving attitude. Pray that the focus of the last minute campaigns will be on issues that lead to human beings bringing out their best and honoring God. Pray that there are no personal attacks on other candidates. “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15). Handling the emotions that could be getting scattered by the promise of winning and fear of losing is a heavy task. For those who do not gain the winning vote will need to go through the process of denial, mourning the losses, accepting the reality and choosing to walk again. Pray for the families of the candidates to be protected from harm and unnecessary scrutiny and shame. Pray for God to comfort and be a present help to many of the candidates that will not be selected.
Voters – Pray that the voters use the opportunity to cast their lot in wisdom and an understanding that is built on information not just lies. ‘The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding . . . 9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown . . . and the years of your life will be many (Proverbs 4). If wisdom is cherished as a way of life, it means the majority vote will represent wise choice.
Christians – The light and salt of the earth who are witnesses of God’s redemption through Christ. These are people that live with consciousness of eternity. Tony Evans says that a Christian is one whose ultimate political alliance is to those persons, policies, and platforms, best represent the values of the kingdom of God. Consciously or unconsciously, Christians cannot not communicate because whether they use words or non-verbally they are passing on a message. ‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone’ (2 Corinthians 3:2). Consciousness of the importance of all God’s people, rich and poor as the day of the Lord draws near. ‘The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:40). Pray for an attitude of gratitude, for the opportunity to have free expression of views, to select the leaders and discuss issues that face them as part of their community and nation. Pray for courage to communicate the gospel which is the power of God for salvation.
Media and the communication tools– Marshal McLuhan theory that the medium is the message remain true even in election campaigns. There is need for consciousness that media matters. Pray for objective reporting and fairness. Internalize the sayings of counsel and knowledge, ‘Teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve’ (Proverbs 22:20- 21). It is hard to be an objective journalist in a media house whose owner/s has a bias and so some have to hold back their beliefs and views in order to keep the job.
Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Pray as the Lord leads you to pray. Ask for great awareness and discernment. ‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is’ (Ephesians 5: 15- 17). Pray that as the election date nears, that there is hunger and thirst for righteousness. That people would seek to live according to God’s word and so love God and love the neighbor. Do not give in to the belief that considering the total population it is easy to feel as though one person is incapable of making a difference. God is looking for one person whose fervent prayer is what will make eternal difference. Pray that the people in this country will be marked not by party affiliations, but the blood of Jesus Christ. The prayer should be followed by right action, voting and remaining thankful for God’s fulfillment of His will. Are you the one God is looking for to stand in the gap for your nation?
‘To admire Satan in Paradise Lost, is to give one’s vote not only for a world of misery, but also for a world of lies and propaganda, of wishful thinking, of incessant autobiography’ (C. S. Lewis)