On January 13, a letter to the editor appeared in the online edition of the Daily Herald. Mary Stuhr of Addison, Illinois wrote: "As the inauguration of our new president occurs, a tidal wave of pro-life prayer should be sweeping the nation to make reparation for the sins against life committed by public officials, who are in favor of abortion." Her simple, one-sentence statement drew 187 comments from online readers.
While a large number of respondents engaged in a protracted debate on abortion, other posters blasted Ms. Stuhr for suggesting that prayer and faith have any place in the business of politics and government. One individual advised her to "keep your religion to yourself . . . [it's] not something to be screamed at others." Another writer encouraged her to "keep praying mary, (sic) and stay home on election day to pray please." Clearly, the idea of specific and concerted prayer for our nation and its leaders struck a nerve with these Daily Herald readers.
I hope that Mary Stuhr's call to prayer strikes a chord with every Christian who reads her words, a chord that resonates and reverberates throughout our country. For too long we have been complacent as the religious heritage of our nation is rewritten by revisionists who desire to water down every reference to the faith on which the United States was founded. We weakly express our helplessness in the face of strong opposition to Judeo-Christian values and a biblical worldview, lamenting that "all we can do is pray," when the very first thing we should do is pray.
This week the eyes of our nation and the world will be focused on Washington, D.C., as Barack Obama is sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. In Springfield and in Washington D.C., the political season has already begun as the start of new legislative sessions (in the General Assembly and in the Congress) are underway. Regrettably the spotlight continued to shine unfavorably on Illinois as the subsequent impeachment and trial of scandal plagued Governor Rod Blagojevich drags on. At a time when our state and national government are in transition and turmoil, it is vital that Christians everywhere commit to uphold our leaders and lawmakers before the Lord in prayer.
Romans 13:1-2 instructs that "every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." St. Paul is clear in his letter to the Romans that those who lead and govern have been appointed to their positions of authority by the Ultimate Authority, the Lord God. The apostle further underscores this truth and our right response to it when he writes to his son in the faith, Timothy, exhorting him "that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority." (1 Timothy 2:1-2a) According to Scripture, following Paul's directives will lead us to a quiet and peaceable life of godliness and reverence because we are seeking to do what is good and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. (1 Timothy2:2b-3) Our prayers for our leaders should not be motivated by our own selfish desires, but by our love for God, our recognition of His supreme authority over us, and our desire to glorify and honor Him.
In light of this exhortation from Holy Scripture, I want to encourage you to commit to pray regularly and deliberately for your community and county, for our state and nation, and most especially for elected officials at every level of government. Many of our leaders espouse viewpoints and agendas that are in direct opposition to God and the truth of His Word. Yet we know that "the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." (Proverbs 21:1) We need to pray for the hearts of our leaders, that they will be open and yielding in the hand of the Lord, submitting to His authority and seeking to do His will. Let us also remember to pray fervently for public servants and all in government who are believers, asking God to bless, protect, strengthen, and work mightily through them.
As we pray for our leaders, we must also examine our own hearts and pray for revival within our churches and our families. We have allowed an attitude of entitlement and materialism -- a life of ease -- to distort accurate and true biblical understanding of God. Pray that the Lord would pour out the light of His Truth into the darkness of lies that masquerade as truth. May God open our eyes, cause us to repent, and place within each of us a burning desire to know Him and serve Him.
The Illinois Family Institute can testify to the truth of James 5:16 -- "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." We are grateful for and dependent on your prayer support. Please continue to pray for IFI's ongoing efforts to serve God in 2009 by striving to transform the laws and culture of Illinois. Join us as we pray that Christians in our state would grasp the magnitude of God's plan for Illinois, our nation, and the world and would choose to stand with us as we seek to proclaim the truth of His Word.
For His glory and honor,
David E. Smith
Illinois Family Institute