Almost every day, my first audible words to God are, "Good morning Papa. Good morning Jesus. Good morning Holy Spirit. Thank you for the gift of this day." I have seen enough death and have lost most of my loved ones, that I have gotten too familiar with loss and "good-byes." So a few days ago, I started my day in prayer, but what was unusual is that my heart was heavy.
To understand why "my heavy heart" is relevant you need to know the story of Nehemiah. There's a story in the bible about a man named Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a son of Israel but during Israel's enslavement to Babylon then fresh return to her motherland, Nehemiah found himself serving King Artaxerxes about a 1000 miles from Israel. Nehemiah had a love for Israel, her honor, and his home country. He was full of patriotism and cared about the protection and prosperity of his beloved Israel. We know this because in Nehemiah 1:2, one of Nehemiah's brothers came from Judah and Nehemiah questioned him about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile and also about Jerusalem. When Nehemiah hears of Israel's great trouble and disgrace, the torn down walls of Jerusalem and the burned gates, Nehemiah wept.
When was the last time we wept for our nation instead of criticizing the reasons for our "great trouble, disgrace, torn down walls of prosperity, compassion, partnership, kindness, etc.?"
I share this story because when I knelt before God in prayer my heart was heavy, similar to Nehemiah. It was heavy for three reasons.
- Because the terrorism in Paris had happened earlier that day
- I had listened to political pundits spew their partisan commentary
- I watched clips of President Obama in Turkey give (in my opinion) a passionless response about the tragedy in Paris and even more frustrating was his (in my opinion) more passionate response at Republicans and journalists than those claiming responsibility for the deaths in France.
I truly believe God asked me why my heart was heavy. Did he not know? Was he not God, the all knowing one, who knows the thoughts and intents of man? Of course He is, but His questioning was not for Him, but for me. His brilliant and simple question led me to a place where I discovered that the "correction of the Lord is a beautiful thing."
So here is how I remember that conversation.
Me: "Good morning Papa. Good morning Jesus. Good morning Holy Spirit. Thank you for the gift of this day and the opportunity to love and be loved. My heart is heavy today."
God: "Why is your heart heavy today?"
Me: "Because it feels like fear, terrorism, and ISIS is winning? Where is the great move of God? If there is a great move of God how come people don't report it? It feels like we are losing. I'm struggling to like our President because I do not believe he is giving good leadership in this situation."
God: "Really? Do you know what he knows? Are you involved in his intelligence briefings? Are you aware of all that is happening politically or with the American military?"
God: "Then are you sure he is not giving good leadership?"
Me: "No, I'm not sure. Ok, so you are right, I can't say he is giving bad leadership."
*thought occurs to me
"Ok, I think what I am really feeling is that I don't trust him. I don't trust his ideology or decision-making process. I don't trust his advisors and ultimately I don't trust him."
God: "Do you know the President? Have you had a conversation with him or are you allowing the opinions of others and their commentaries about the President shape your perception of him instead of choosing to see him as I've created him? Are you allowing the "leaven of Herod" (Mark 8) to influence you more than the leaven of the Kingdom? Are you going to relate to him based upon policies or heaven's identity?"
Me: "I'm allowing the opinions of others determine how I feel about the President. Ok, so I don't have enough personal knowledge of the President to know if I trust him or not. Therefore, I thank you for giving me this moment to pray for him and for giving me the gift of repentance. I choose to let heaven and your kind and wise heart determine how I see the president. Father, forgive me for not praying for President Obama as I should, but instead have often chosen to be critical of him and countless others that don't match up to what I believe is good leadership."
I then entered into a time of prayer and thanksgiving for the opportunity to pray and declare God's promises of President Obama and many others. I don't know what will be the result of such prayers, but what I do believe is, that moment of prayer and confession was more Christlike that lobbing stones at the President, Republican presidential nominees, etc.
For the record I believe Christians should be educated when they vote and be involved in civil government and the issues of our day. I don't believe Christians are at their best when they use their power for political gain or try to legislate righteousness. I'm not advocating that Christians should disengage from society and hide and wait for the "great rapture." What I am saying is let's be engaged as citizens of heaven, with heaven's ideas, wisdom, love, and respect and find ourselves helping solve problems instead be a part of the problem.
Franklin Graham captures well my heart in an article he wrote titled, "Praying for those in Authority is a Biblical Command." He wrote, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, KJV).
Understand that the Apostle Paul is writing this instruction to his protégé Timothy at a time when the vile emperor Nero was at the helm of the vast Roman Empire. Christians were viciously persecuted, clothed in wild animal skins and put in the arena before hungry lions, even covered red in pitch and used as human lanterns to light the streets of Rome.
Nevertheless, the aged apostle, who would soon be martyred during Nero’s reign of terror, instructs Timothy to make prayer for the rulers of his day—including the deranged Nero—a personal priority.
There should be a sense of urgency in our prayer life, an understanding that we “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The prince of darkness is grimly and powerfully at work in world affairs, and prayer is a great battlefield especially as we pray for those in leadership.
When the Scripture says that the “king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water” (Proverbs 21:1), it means that a Sovereign God can turn the heart of a king at any time and in any way. If there are policies and platforms that don’t conform to biblical ethics, the intercession of Christians can be used in a powerful, transforming way.
Neither kings, nor presidents, nor mayors, nor members of Congress are the ultimate authority—God is. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh …” (Psalm 2:2-4).
As Charles Spurgeon said, 'prayer is the slender nerve that moves the omnipotent muscle of God.' The Bible commands us to pray for authorities, because all authority has been established by Him to accomplish His purposes."
My deep encouragement to my friends and those reading this article is to not pray as a democrat, republican, tea party member, libertarian, green party or any other political party, but to pray as a follower of Christ who wants to see God's kingdom have influence in the heart's of the men and women who give governmental and civil leadership in our towns, cities, states, school boards, city councils, special agencies, appointed offices, etc.
Anchored in Christ,