This past weekend, as I reflected on President’s Day, I thought of President James A. Garfield, the only preacher yet to be elected President of the United States. His unique personal history as preacher, educator, soldier, and statesman brought to mind our responsibility as Christians to pray for our civic and religious leaders. As it says in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, “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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Calls for fire take on a special urgency when the sender is under attack. Dissension, defamation, and lies mar our public conversation right now. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, slandering leaders or other citizens does nothing to persuade others of one’s own integrity and honor. Let’s pray for our nation that we may know peace. Let’s pray for President Trump that he may grow in wisdom, discernment, and righteousness. Let’s pray for ourselves as individuals that we may repress the urge to express ourselves crudely and stop ourselves before we lie about another person. Let us pray, also, that we will grow in courage and in the ability to stand up for what is right in a way that will convict but also persuade. President Garfield is quoted as having said, “It is a brave man…who dares to look the devil in the face and tell him he is a devil.” Just as a soldier should make sure that his weapon is in good working condition before firing, and that he sends the correct coordinates to artillery or air support when calling for fire, so we too must be sure that we sre correct in our assertions when we rebuke or make charges against others. Pray hard, my friends, and live faithfully.
“O God who rules the rulers, we pray for our nation, for our President, for our Governors and our legislators, and for our judges. Give these men and women wisdom and courage to act justly on behalf of their fellow citizens. Give them discernment and a capacity for discretion when speaking to the public. We pray that truth will characterize our public conversation. Help us to identify lies quickly, and avoid spreading them. We pray that all will come to knowledge of your will and obey it. In Jesus’ name, Amen