I attend the Church on the Way in Southern California. For years, one of my best friends was Pastor Scott Bauer, the son-in-law of Dr. Jack Hayford. In 2003, Scott died from an aneurysm at the age of 49.
One Sunday, not long before he died, Scott stood before the congregation and asked, "How many of you prayed for Bill Clinton when he was president of the United States?" A few scattered hands went up. "Now, how many of you pray for George W. Bush?" Hundreds of hands shot up -- it was practically unanimous.
Then Scott reminded us of the words of Jesus: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."
He added, "We were all offended by Bill Clinton's indiscretions in the Oval Office. But maybe if you and I had prayed for our president from the beginning, Monica Lewinsky might never have shown up in the Oval Office -- and we might not have had to suffer a year of scandal that weakened Mr. Clinton's presidency and our entire nation."
Scott was right. It's easy to pray for your friends. It's hard to pray for your political opponents. But that's just what Jesus tells us to do: Love your enemies and pray for them. We disobey our own Scriptures if we don't pray for our political opponents.
Yes, we still oppose and expose the harm our opponents are doing to our country. I want to critique my opponents without hating them -- and it’s hard to hate people while you're praying for them.
We need to keep our dialogue focused on issues, not personalities. I don't agree with President Obama on very much, but where I do agree, I want to honestly say so. And I do agree with the way Barack Obama relates to his family. When I see him spending time with his children, when I see that he still dates his wife, I think that's terrific. I applaud that.
As the apostle Paul wrote, we need to pray "for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives" (1 Timothy 2:2). So I pray for President Obama while I oppose his agenda. In fact, our prayers have never been more urgently needed than right now.
A quick check of the headlines shows that President Obama faces enormous challenges around the globe. The Muslim world is in upheaval, and there's no telling if the result will be the rise of democracy -- or a descent into Iran-style theocracy.
The demonstrations that toppled the Egyptian government are spreading across the Middle East. Protests -- some peaceful, some bloody -- have broken out in the streets of Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain and Yemen. Libya is on the brink of civil war. Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi has ordered the wholesale slaughter of his own people, including air strikes against protesters. Meanwhile, Libyan tribes threaten to stop the flow of Libyan oil.
Protests have even erupted in China, where the Communist government moved swiftly to crack down on the "Jasmine Revolution."
Imagine being the president of the United States, confronting this rising chaos without any firm Reaganesque principles to guide you. That's the situation President Obama finds himself in. This man truly needs our prayers.
On the day my father, Ronald Reagan, was inaugurated as president, he placed his hand upon the Bible of his late mother Nelle and took the oath of office. His hand rested upon the words God spoke to King Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
In the margin next to that verse, Nelle had written, "A most wonderful verse for the healing of the nations." America did undergo a miraculous healing over the next eight years. Why? Because Ronald Reagan dedicated his presidency to God -- and because God's people prayed for their president.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant. He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com. Portions of this column are adapted from his book The New Reagan Revolution (St. Martin's Press).