by: Janice Kaye
I’ve experienced it so many times I’ve lost count. Christians are talking politics, or talking prayer requests, and the conversation goes something like this: “Yeah, our country is in a mess. So much going wrong. These are dark days. Well. Keep praying – pray for our military. Pray for our law enforcement officers. Pray for our churches.” And there, it typically ends, with no mention of our most influential, king-like, and stressed out leader: our president.
Granted, occasionally, the commander in chief is mentioned, but when he is, it inevitably is in a condescending manner: “Pray that the president will get saved. Lord knows he needs it. Otherwise he is going to take us all along to Muslim hell with him in his socialist handbasket.” While I may be hyperbolizing a bit on the specifics, the attitude is along those lines. Political disagreement with Obama translates into a distaste for the idea of offering prayers on his behalf.
This distaste, however, trounces scripture. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 is a familiar and clear passage; in these verses, followers of Christ are urged to pray for and give thanks for all people, specifically for kings and other high-ranking leaders. There is no exception clause for officials we don’t like or are suspicious of. Indeed, the Roman regime under which this scripture was penned was arguably far worse than anything today’s Americans have ever experienced. Even the most conspiracy-theory minded Obama objectors would be hard pressed to assert that he is a murderous egotist, willing to kill even his own family for political gain. Yet, the tone of the commandment is not condemning. The politics and policies aren’t the point. The human struggles of the leaders, their ability to bring turmoil or peace to a nation, and their ultimate need for spiritual rebirth are the emphases of the commandment.
As I have heard other Christians snub the president in their exhortations to one another to pray for America, I have found myself irritated at an intellectual level that anyone could be so self-righteous as to think they could choose who was or wasn’t worthy of their prayers. However, as I continued to fume, I eventually was struck with the realization that if I am honest with myself, I often forget to pray for my country’s leaders at all. Thus, I write this post not to condemn those who haven’t been praying as they ought – I recognize that I am among them. Instead, I write to remind us all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks are to be made for all people; for Obamas, and for all others who are in authority.