It feels like election campaigns are often pretty grizzly affairs these days, and that whatever the outcome there will be an awful lot of hurting people the next day. How are Christians to feel about such things, and how are they to pray?
The most obvious place to turn when thinking about praying for our leaders is 1 Timothy 2:1–4:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Good government is a precious thing, that makes it much easier to get on with the business of living for God and sharing the good news with those around us. We should certainly pray that our elected leaders will act wisely and lead in a way that promotes a peaceful, ordered society, protects the vulnerable, and maintains religious freedom.
But what about when it feels that this might not be the result at all? What about when it feels like our elected leaders are doing quite the opposite?
Who is really in charge?
Today I have found it helpful to meditate on Isaiah 40, one of my favourite passages in the Bible. Especially verses 6–24:
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand for ever. … Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. … It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
Human leaders come and go as quickly as the flowers in the field. Their power is limited in extent and time. By contrast, there is one who sits on the throne of the universe, high above such that the inhabitants of the Earth are like tiny grasshoppers down below. He brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. All the nations are as nothing before him, as able to tip the needle on the scales as a spec of dust would be.
So whatever the outcome of this election, pray that you will keep that perspective, a big vision of a God who is not fazed by the result (whichever way you voted).