The billygraham.org website explains the initiative by stating, “The only one who can fix our country’s problems is God Himself, and we pray that God will bless our president and our nation for His glory.” The website also includes a list of numerous religious leaders supporting the special day including Jerry Falwell, Jack Graham, David Jeremiah, Jentezen Franklin, and Alan Keyes.
I realize this call to prayer is received in various ways; however, praying for one’s leaders is not a blue or red decision; it is an opportunity for Christians to come together. We participate in electing a President and other government officials and can have disagreements on policies, but praying for our country and our leaders is our responsibility whether or not our candidate wins. When I disagree with policies or decisions, I am unfortunately too quick to complain and I seek to argue my perspective. Perhaps if I turned to prayer as a first response instead of a last resort, I would see that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5)
As you process through Franklin Graham’s request to pray for our President, consider the following:
First, there is power in prayer. The Billy Graham Evangelist Association explains prayer as a “spiritual communication between man and God, a two-way relationship in which man should not only talk to God but also listen to Him. Prayer to God is like a child’s conversation with his father. It is natural for a child to ask his father for the things he needs.” When God’s people pray, they are conversing with the God of the universe, and Scripture speaks to the importance of prayer within the life of the individual. AND, prayer is also where we can listen to God’s voice. Prayer speaks to God’s heart, but it also speaks to our hearts. Specifically, Philippians 4 instructs us to, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Prayer is not only a way to present our requests to God, it provides a posture for his followers to be formed and comforted by our heavenly Father.
Second, calling for special times of prayer is a common occurrence throughout the Scriptures. Prayer is a regular part of the lives of God’s people, and prayer is also part of some of the most important events throughout the Bible. Abraham prays for an heir in Genesis 15. Samuel’s mother Hannah prays for her son in 1 Samuel 2.
There is a special time of prayer at the dedication of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 8. Daniel prays regularly and is used by God to influence world leaders. Nehemiah prayed for his nation before receiving permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In the New Testament, Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matthew 6), and he had a dedicated time of prayer with his disciples prior to his arrest and crucifixion. Prayer is woven throughout the fabric of the Bible, and is an important element within the life of God’s people.
Third, we are commanded in Scripture to pray for our leaders. First, Timothy 2:1-2 indicates we are to pray for all people, but also specifically notes national leaders. The text reads, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Scripture affirms the power of God to direct governing authorities and structures. From the humble beginnings of the nation of Israel to the establishment of kings over the nation of Israel, even to the future reign of Jesus over all creation, we see God’s sovereign hand at work. As his people, we are to faithfully serve him and regularly pray for those in authority over us.
Considering the power of prayer, the special times of prayer within Scripture, and the command for us to pray for our leaders, I hope you will make a special attempt to pray for our President this Sunday, it is both a privilege and responsible we bear as citizens of this nation and children of the King.