The votes are in. America has decided who will occupy the office of the president of the United States for the next four years. So, what should be the posture of Christians at this point? We should pray. We should pray for our current president and our president-elect as well. Scripture reminds us to pray for those who are in government, because they have been placed there by God.
And, we should pray for our leaders whether we voted for them or not, because Scripture commands us to do so. Pray that God will give them wisdom in the decisions they will make, and pray for those who will advise them. Pray also that the will of God would be done.
We actually find a precedent in Scripture for the transition of power, for one administration replacing another. Daniel, a prophet living in Babylon, watched a transition in his government as Darius assumed the throne. So what did Daniel do? He studied the Scripture – and he prayed. And as Daniel prayed, he not only prayed for the man who was in power, but he also prayed for himself and repented of his sin. What I find noteworthy is that the book of Daniel does not record any outstanding sins in this great man's life. I am not suggesting that Daniel was sinless, because we all sin. He was a godly man, yet we read that Daniel repented of his personal sin.
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It reminds me of what God told King Solomon, a world leader of his day: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV). Many times we are quick to point a finger at those who appear to be taking our country in the wrong direction. But when God sees a breakdown in a culture, he points his finger at his people. In the above verse, God is basically saying, "What I want is for my people to live godly lives and to turn from personal sin." Then he promises, "I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." So we need to pray, recognizing that things will fall into their proper place as God brings about the events he said would transpire before his return.
And we need to remember this: God is in control. History is his story. Proverbs 21:1 tells us, "The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases" (NLT). We could take the word "king" and replace it with "president" or "governor" or "senator," or any other position of power. God is in control. And our responsibility is to pray.
You may be facing a personal crisis right now. Maybe it is unemployment. Maybe it is a foreclosure on your home. Maybe it is a loss in your investments. Maybe your marriage is falling apart. Maybe you have a life-threatening illness. Or maybe you are paralyzed by fear as you think about an uncertain future. What are you to do? The Bible says you are to pray: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done" (Philippians 4:6 NLT). If you do this, the passage goes on to say, "you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (verse 7).
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I have lived by these words in the aftermath of my son's recent death. I have been hit with waves of deep sadness and the harsh reality of his absence, to the point that it overwhelms me at times. So I pray. Sometimes my prayers are not long; they are simply a cry out to God for help and strength. And he does help me. He does give me the strength I need – not necessarily more strength than I need, but what I need to get through it.
God promises that he will give us a peace that passes understanding – not necessarily a peace that always will give understanding. We don't like to be in situations in which there is no apparent way out, because we like to have a backup plan. Then we like to have a backup plan for the backup plan. Then we have a backup plan for the backup plan for the backup plan. But sometimes God will allow a set of circumstances in our lives for which there is backup plan. There is no safety net. There is no way out but him.
Sometimes we get confused and try to do God's part. Yet there is a place for the miraculous, and there is a place for our reaction to it. Often in our own strength, we try to do what only God can do.
So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, remember that God is in control. And then take time to pray.