According to Scripture, the prayer of a righteous man, like Elijah, is effective and powerful. (James 5:17,18) It makes a difference in greater ways than we can imagine. If that’s true, and I believe it is, we should be vigilant observers of our culture and the world around us. We should look for opportunities to invite God into situations and ask Him to intervene.
Christians, if we believe prayer is powerful, we should pray the news.
By that, I mean we should scroll through our news feed (not Facebook feed but actual NEWS), stop long enough to read the stories that catch our attention, consider how God might want to become involved, and pray Scripture over the situation. Please check SNOPES.com or some other online source to verify the accuracy of the news report unless it comes from a reliable major news outlet.
Will combining prayer and politics, prayer and culture change anything? It depends, in small part, on how you view prayer, and, in a larger part, how you view God.
What is prayer?
The Online dictionary defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship,” or an “earnest hope or wish.” I define prayer as a conversation with the One who loves me most, Almighty God Himself.
When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose a relationship intended to be intimate and loving. The Bible, God’s word, is, in a way, a letter from God to those He loves. It’s designed so that we can know more about Him by reading what He’s said. Conversation, or prayer, should be the natural response to time spent in His Word. We learn to know Him through time spent with Him in conversation and through a faithful life of obedience.
Talking with God, or prayer, is not limited by space, time, or whether or not a Bible is in our hand. Because God is omnipresent (everywhere at once) and omniscient (knows everything at once), He is wherever we are and knows whatever we’re doing. He sees what we see and hears what we hear. He is with us.
What prayer is not
Prayer is not the token we insert into the cosmic dispenser of wants and desires with the expectation that whatever we ask will mysteriously appear. It is not the command of a general to a lower ranking soldier with instant obedience expected.
It is the humble request of a rank recruit requesting a favor of a 5-star general, the request of a child snuggled in the lap of a beloved daddy.
His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. His response (Matthew 6:9-13) focused more on who God is and what He wants than our desires and needs. He began with worship and honor to God, then God’s will, then personal requests - for needs, rather than wants. Our prayers should follow that same formula.
Why pray about politics?
The God who loved us enough to send His Son (John 3:16), who forgives our sins and carries our burdens (Psalm 68:19), cares about us. He’s concerned about the things that concern us. God desires righteousness and justice and, according to Scripture, is involved in the affairs of men in significant ways.
Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” If God can change the heart of a king, do we want Him to change it to a focus on righteousness and justice? Certainly, we do.
The most important reason to combine prayer and politics, however is God commands it.
“First of all, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
How to pray from the newsfeed
Regardless of our political party or ideological preference, we are to pray for those in authority, whether we agree with their policies or not. Those “authority figures” include elected officials, political appointees, and law enforcement officials, as well as the managers and administrators in offices, teachers and administrators in schools, pastors, elders, and deacons in churches, and parents in homes. Even committee chairmen hold a position of authority over those in the committee.
Those who have direct impact on our lives, whether as leaders of other nations or retailers in our communities, need our prayers as do our family and friends.
Rather than allowing the news to become a source of controversy, arguments, and emotional outbursts, we do well to let it drive us to our knees. A few examples of prayer needs from my recent newsfeed include:
- school shooting in Florida: family and friends of victims, impact on the students and community, safety of students in our schools. Issues of troubled teens and intervening before the problems become catastrophic.
- Issues of gun control and first amendment rights, as well as poor decision making concerning these issues. Prayers for wisdom and protection, especially of children.
- Olympics and our focus on excellence as well as the pervasive feel that only gold winners are champions.
- Hate groups in the US on the rise. Pray for unity, racial healing, and and end to violence and hatred.
There are, of course, many more news articles and many more needs for which we should pray.
What should we pray?
Prayers for peace, healing, hope, and protection are appropriate in any situation. Prayers for righteousness and justice to rule, as well as for evil to be defeated are good choices. Pray Scripture. I use the Psalms on a daily basis to help direct my prayers, but the prayers of Paul and, of course, of Jesus are also excellent models. Perhaps the best prayer of all, however, is the prayer Jesus prayed when He faced the cross. “Not my will, but Thine be done." (Luke 22:42)
What will God do?
According to the prophet Jeremiah, our job is to seek God with our whole heart. If we do, He promises we will find Him. We are to call, come, and pray and He will listen and respond. (Jeremiah 29:11-14) If we begin by delighting ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. Does that mean we get all we want? All we ask? No. God will change our desires to Him, then give us what we desire. (Psalm 37:4-6)
Will He intervene in our societal and cultural issues? Yes, according to Proverbs 21:1, He will intervene, direct, and adjust the climate to accomplish His desires.
Are you tired of the changes in our culture? Frightened by the decline of the moral code in our nation? It’s time to make a difference, and you can help. Open your news feed, bow your head, and discuss the situation with the King of Kings. Your prayers have more of an effect than you know.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6