A Prayer for the Election

Today, right before lunchtime, I walked out of my office alongside my wife and daughter, strolled a block to the courthouse, and voted. In that one simple act, I did something that the vast majority of humans in the history of this planet could only dream of: I, an ordinary citizen, not a Lord or a wealthy landowner, participated directly in the government of my nation, state and city. I think it’s worth taking just a moment to thank God for how ridiculously privileged we are in this nation.

And yet…most of us still feel a deep sense of anxiety about this election. Over these past several weeks, I have pondered and prayed about what to write to you regarding the events of November 3. At long last, I have decided simply to write a prayer. We Baptists don’t tend to use pre-written prayers, preferring the “from the heart” spontaneous variety. So I am not asking you to pray this prayer word-for-word to the Father, although there is certainly nothing wrong with doing so. At the very least, I hope this motivates you to pray for our nation in fresh ways. I am sure many of you are already praying for your chosen candidate to win. Hopefully, you’re also praying for revival among God’s people and awakening among the lost. But what are some other, specific things to pray for? One week from today, many questions will be answered, and some may still be in doubt. Let’s talk to the One who has all the answers.

O Lord, thank you that you’ve chosen to place us in a nation where we have such lavish freedom. We remember your Word that tells us “to whomever much is given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We don’t want to waste this freedom. So we pray:

For the man who wins our Presidential election. You already know who this will be, Lord, although we don’t yet. He will face a heavy burden. We pray for him that you would:

Guide him as he chooses his cabinet and advisers over these next three months. Place around him men and women of wisdom and integrity.

Go to work on his character. He is a sinner like all of us, but in this role we need a man who is better than most of us. Teach him courage to stand up for righteousness and justice, even if doing so angers his political base; wisdom to choose the right path when decisions impact millions of people; and humility enough to receive criticism and advice graciously, while putting others ahead of himself.

Enable him to bring us together. We know that in our political system, there will always be people who disagree with him, but we pray that he would lead in such a way that even his opponents would trust his motivations, and that we would feel once again that we are one nation, under God, indivisible.

Most of all, make yourself known to him personally. If he doesn’t know you yet, we pray that he would come to know you soon. If he does, strengthen his faith in you. Use him to accomplish your will as revealed in your Word:

To protect the right we have to spread the Gospel, worship your name, and live in obedience to your Word.

To stand up for the dignity and rights of all people, including those still in the womb.

To establish justice for those who don’t have the earthly resources to thrive.

To lead us to a place of equality for and harmony among the different races in our nation.

To protect those who are vulnerable, and punish those who are wicked.

And to use our nation’s immense power for good in the world.

Where he fails to do any of these things, we pray that you would raise up righteous men and women to oppose him effectively.

For the man who loses the election, we pray that he would accept the mandate of the people graciously, in a way that does not further divide us, but helps us to heal. We also pray for his soul, that this time of deep personal disappointment would drive him to you.

Most of all, we pray for us, your people, who are called by your name:

Your word tells us not to trust in princes, but to put all of our hope in you (Psalm 146:3-5). Yet we must confess we have put our hopes in political movements and leaders. Please use this election to wean us from this idolatry.

As we return to you with our whole heart, we won’t stop supporting particular leaders. But we pray that we would hold even “our” candidates accountable when they do and say evil things. Forgive us for the times we acted more like the court prophets who praised the Kings of Israel and told them whatever they wanted to hear. Instead, make us more like Isaiah, Daniel, and Nathan, who spoke bold truth to good and evil leaders alike.

As we cast off our political idolatry, help us also to love those who disagree with us. Help us stop treating them like enemies in a culture war and start treating them like people you died for. Remind us to pray for our leaders, including the ones we don’t agree with. And when we express our disagreement, show us how to do that in a way that is more like what we see in you, and less like what we see everywhere else. Help us to act like people who are discipled by you, not by TV talk shows and social media.

Most of all, help us to make you absolute King of our lives in every way, and to spread your Kingdom everywhere we go. Make us the fragrance of the knowledge of you (2 Co. 2:14), that everyone we meet would long to know you.

In Jesus’ name, amen.