Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Praying for Presidents

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
I Timothy 2:1-2
Most of us really want to faithfully pray for our president and other leaders. With a presidential election looming before us and a pack of what appear to be less-than-promising candidates, now is a great time to start praying for our future leader as well. But sometimes it's hard to know what to say. Good news--there is a great model for us in King David's Psalm 101.

Psalm 101 is David's declaration to God of what kind of man he wants to be as king, and what kind of servants he intends to keep around him. Some commentators say he wrote this while he was waiting to become king. Whether before or after, it's a glimpse into the heart of a humble and devoted man of integrity with a call to rulership--exactly what we want in our own White House. Here are some bullet point summaries of his words that we can pray for our current and future national leaders:
  • Verse 1 - "I will sing of your love and justice. . ." - some versions use the words mercy and judgment. A godly ruler should embrace both and exhibit both, since the function of his office is to both encourage righteousness and punish evil. He should be able to apply justice and mercy appropriately and in proper balance.
  • Verse 2 - "I will be careful to lead a blameless life. . ." - He will pay attention to how he walks and curb his sinful tendencies.
  • Verses 2b-3 - "I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing." - His blameless life in v. 2 will spring from a blameless heart, or some versions say integrity of heart. He will maintain that heart by guarding his "eye gate."
  • Verses 3b-7 - These verses are all about the kind of men he will surround himself with, his "ministers" or servants. In our modern parlance, these would be the king's advisers. He calls for men who:
    • are faithful
    • not of perverse heart
    • don't slander (mudslinging?)
    • are arrogant and proud in heart
    • walk blamelessly
    • do not lie or practice deceit
It's very significant that David spends more of this psalm talking about those he will surround himself with than he talks about himself. That illustrates a point that few people realize--that a president's (or senator's or congressman's) advisers are every bit as important to his success or failure as he is himself, even if he is a strong leader. They are the ones who study the issues in depth, as the president can't possibly have time to know everything about everything. He is often depending on their depth and accuracy of knowledge and understanding of complex issues and events. He must be able to trust them to support and guide him in his agenda and not one of their own. They are the ones who tell him how to handle every problem, issue, crisis or conflict. They spend more "face time" with him than anyone else and have his ear.

So, it naturally follows that if these people are righteous, wise and trustworthy, the president and nation are well served by them. But if they are faithless, perverse in heart, arrogant, slanderous and deceitful, the consequences can be devastating for the president and the nation. This is why we need to pray that President Bush and our future president surround themselves with the right kind of people.

Let's pray together that God will in his mercy give us leaders and advisers like David, who, although he was by no mean a perfect man, loved the Lord with his whole heart and sought to honor Him as a man and as a king.

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