In less than 36 hours the race for the Presidency of the United States should be over. I say 'should' just in case we see a repeat of 'hanging chads' and faulty voting machines like we did during the Bush vs. Gore race.
Election campaigns provide something of a pause for reflection on the state of nation. We evaluate the state of the economy, the responsiveness of the current administration to the needs of the citizens and we make choices based on past performance and future vision. In the case of America, there's been no shortage of finger pointing as to who is to blame for high unemployment, a sputtering economy, rising debt and a general decline in the nation. To date, neither contender for the Presidency has been willing to say, 'that was our fault or 'my fault' or even 'I was wrong about that...'. It would be refreshing, inspiring and perhaps even enough to ensure election, but don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.
There's a familiar passage in 2 Chr. 7:14 that challenges me. The verse is God's response to Solomon's prayer in 2 Chr. 6 where Solomon humbly asks God to respond to the prayers of His people when the nation experiences hardship, adversity and judgement for its willful disobedience. God's response to Solomon's request is 'I have heard your prayers and when difficulty comes upon the nation, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.' (NIV)
The conversation between God and Solomon fascinates me because it suggests that there is a connection between what happens to a nation and what the real remedy might be. Could it be that more than a stimulus or recovery plan, what the nation really needs is for the church to take it's place as priest and intercessor on behalf of the nation and begin to repent for our own sins and for those of the country?
Nations lose their moral compass and forsake their moral foundations when the church abdicates its role as priest and intercessor on behalf of the nation. I understand that we don't live in a theocracy and this is not a call for the church to 'take over' or dictate it's values to the rest of society. It is a call to humbly and intentionally recognize that we have a responsibility to those who govern over us and to those who live around us, to pray for God's blessing upon them.
Some will be hostile to our faith, others will be dismissive of our prayers. That does not negate their effectiveness. Paul wrote to the early church to pray for those who ruled over them so that they would live peaceable lives. It's worthwhile noting that the ruler of the day was Nero who was dipping Christians in tar and using them as torches to light Rome at night.
More than an endorsement from a church leader or an unspoken political relationship with a particular ideology, political leaders need a promise from us that we will take our place and intentionally and purposefully pray for them!