How do I pray for a candidate? Even without a clerical collar people share with pastors the concerns of their hearts. It is a privilege to hear these privileged conversations. I once sat next to a seasoned public servant at a chicken dinner. I asked “what is it like to be a senator?” He shared his heart.
“Once you are elected to office people think they can say anything to you or about you. You might be out on a date with your wife and some stranger will come to your table and launch a mean spirited inquiry.” He then shared details of a particularly ugly scene at a ball field where an angry uncivil constituent upbraided him in front of his shocked grandchildren and daughter in-law. He ended his lament with a deflecting laugh: “and that is face to face: what people will say on email and Facebook… well, let’s not even go there. Once in office people forget you are a person with feelings capable of getting hurt.”
How do you pray for a candidate or an election? Well first remember politicians are people. Pray for their needs: strength, moral courage, adequate rest, wise advisors, honesty, thick skin, forgiveness, vision, and wisdom. Pray for their families. Pray by name for their children, parents, or spouses. Pray for the burden of office: to make long term decisions for a sound-bite age, in a divided electorate, can’t be easy. Listen to the arguments of the other side: no matter what side you might be on. Pray for your neighbor’s concerns even if you see the solutions differently. When you pray “deliver us from evil” be careful not to paint with too broad a stroke. Do not look for the Messiah to come from City Hall, the Governor’s Mansion, Wall Street, Capitol Hill or the Oval Office. Pray for our troops, diplomats, and NGOs. Pray for all affected by our policies. Pray for the poor. Pray for other nations who look to the U.S.. Pray for missionaries. Pray for Christians unable to worship safely. Pray for nations that do not uphold basic human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom, to worship, equal rights, or fair elections. Pray for the church to carry the light and hope of Christ. Speak the truth in love. Pray for God’s Kingdom to take hold in our lives. Ask God, what can I do to make this election, our town, our nation, my conversations, my church more Christ-like? Thank God for the freedoms and basic human rights our nation upholds. Finally, let us give our burdens to God: entrusting our pathway and any anxiety to Jesus and then let us resolve to work for neighbor, justice, truth, peace and a more Christ-like world.
Good words, Paul. Jim Wallis wrote a great book that is right in line with your thinking here – God’s Politics.