First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2
November 4, 2008. There he stands in the darkness. It seems that tens of thousands have come to laud their new king. Yes, we can! the multitude shouts repeatedly. One almost expects the crowd to recite a verse from Isaiah 25, This is the one we were waiting for. . . A camera catches Jesse Jackson weeping tears of joy while the crowd roars. Tears also fall from Red State voters as they ask, Is this the end of America as we know it? Has the sky fallen on the American experiment? On the one hand, messiah. On the other hand, anti-Christ.
Truth be told, Barak Obama is neither. He is a 47-year-old African American who happens to be the forty-fourth man to be elected president of the United States. Regardless of how you voted or what your political persuasion is, Barak Obama deserves your respect and needs your prayers. In January he will become your president and he will lead your nation.
A conservative commentator said after Obama’s election, We pledge our support for those of his policies we can support, our willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt in cases of uncertainty, and our constructive criticism and loyal opposition where we are compelled to differ. When I read this, it struck me that this statement should be true for all of us, regardless of our disappointment or our glee. In fact, whether we voted for Barack Obama, John McCain, Ron Paul, or Cynthia McKinney, we should agree with this commentator and act according to his wise words. And, regardless of whom we voted for, it is incumbent upon us to support our president with the gift of prayer.
Do you remember how King David got his start? He was just a young man when a skirmish with the Philistines kicked up: a big fat giant across the river was taunting the children of Abraham. To avoid a potentially ugly battle, leaders of both sides chose the strategy “Your best guy against our best guy.” On the one side, Goliath of Gath. On the other side, cowardice and trepidation. One by one the Israelite men found something better to do than to stare down this otherworldly behemoth. But David—young David who was too small to wear the king’s armor—was unimpressed by the Philistine. He gathered five smooth stones from the nearby brook and, with Yahweh on his side and a slingshot on his belt, considered himself ready for battle.
Might we consider our prayers for the president-elect to be five smooth stones for the battles of the next four or eight years? Might we put these smooth stones in our president’s slingshot? Whether despondent, delighted, or disinterested, might we help equip our president for his job with the gift of prayer? And what, you ask, would these five smooth stones be?
First, let us pray for our president’s character and conduct. Let us pray that Barack Obama’s professed faith is genuine, that it will grow, and that our new president will govern as one who has been transformed by the grace of God. Let us pray that his conduct will be becoming of his office. Let us pray that the Obama’s marriage and family life will be strong and a place of refuge from the pressures of the presidency.
Second, let us pray that the president will surround himself with wise counselors. Proverbs 29:5 says, A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet. The picture is that of a flatterer who always tells his friend whatever that friend wants to hear. In the end, however, such flattery is a snare. We need to ask God to give Barack Obama friends and cabinet members who will say more than the word yes to the commander-in-chief.
Third, let us offer the smooth stone of praying for Obama’s handling of the economy. The crash of financial markets from Singapore to Wall Street has the world watching America and our new president. Financial institutions totter while businesses are collapsing daily. Let us pray for the new leader of the western world asking that God will give him wisdom so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Fourth, let us pray for our president’s handling of foreign affairs. Joe Biden’s prediction, late in the presidential campaign, will probably prove to be an accurate prophecy: our new president will be tested soon after he occupies the Oval Office. Obama’s challenges in this area are likely to be formidable. He wants to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia is a powder keg. Oil prices are volatile beyond anyone’s prediction. And there are pirates off of Somalia. Not to mention Darfur… Pakistan… Hugo Chavez… Kim Jong-il… et cetera times a hundred! Our president needs our prayers.
Fifth, let us pray for an awakening of Obama’s conscience with regard to the unborn. We have never had a candidate, let alone a president, who is more committed to the evil of abortion. In July, candidate Obama promised Planned Parenthood that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would further codify the unrestricted abortion license currently in place in the United States. When asked by pastor Rick Warren when a baby deserves human rights, Obama answered that the question was above his pay grade. As president of the United States, he must realize that answering this question is definitely his pay grade—and his answer thus far has been clear. Barack Obama has never heard of an abortion he would forbid by law. We need to ask God to soften our president-elect’s heart with regard to the weakest members of our society who are being sacrificed on the altar of convenience.
When all is said and done, President Obama has very little power. He is not very different from you and me. The nations are but dust on the scales from God’s perspective (Isaiah 40:15). God moves the hearts of kings like water in his hands (Proverbs 21:1). E. M. Bounds was right when he claimed prayer is infinitely more powerful than politics:
God shapes the world by prayers. Prayers are deathless. The lips that utter them may have closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers outlive the lives of an age, outlive a world. That man is most immortal who has done the most and best praying. They are God’s heroes, God’s saints, God’s servants, God’s vice regents.
So let us add Barack Obama to our prayers and watch God shape the world. Yes, he can!