I have been bombarded lately with political ads–and that takes some doing, since I don’t have television and don’t listen to the radio– still two major sources of “coverage” used by most candidates. And many of the political ads are deceptive, in that they don’t seem to be “for” or “against” a particular candidate– rather they are trying to encourage me to see a particular issue (healthcare, abortion, gun control, education, taxes, etc.) in a particular way, or vote based on a single polarizing issue. I get very frustrated with the intense saturation and obvious propaganda, but overall, I am thankful that we have the freedom to state our political preferences and encourage everyone to vote– hopefully based on thoughtfully looking at the issues, policies, and consequences of the actions proposed by the candidates.
One thing that frustrates me is the conflation of politics with religion and Christianity in particular. God is apolitical…He is not a Republican or Democrat, a Socialist, Fascist, Capitalist, or even monarchist. He is not American, Canadian, British, Honduran, Somalian, Laotian, Korean, German, Bolivian, Syrian, New Zealander, Nigerian, Greek, or Pole. His Kingdom is a Theocracy– He is the sovereign and absolute ruler. He does not consult with a Senate, or Assembly, or Cabinet, or Ministry. He cannot be “voted” in or out, succeeded, or supplanted. He allows for and even institutes worldly governments– He raised up priests and prophets in Israel and founded their Monarchy–but He also tears down corrupt governments and destroys empires.
So when we pray for government officials, we are not doing so based on their merits in God’s eyes. When we pray for upcoming elections, we do not pray for the “best” result, based on our personal political preferences..or we shouldn’t. We should be praying that God will be honored by our vote; that our nation (and its leaders) will recognize God’s sovereignty and act in obedience to His will; and that we will be prepared for God’s blessings or corrective punishments as He sees fit to bring them..that we will learn from those in authority, pray for them with sincerity and good will, and use our vote as stewards of Grace, and not as power-hungry, politically rabid puppets trying to create a substitute Kingdom of God within our own state or nation.
Consider King David– God had anointed him King of Israel to succeed King Saul, who had fallen out of favor with God. David was hunted down as a traitor by Saul, his own father-in-law, and forced into exile. Yet he continued to faithfully pray for and speak kindly of Saul. When given the opportunity to kill his tormentor and take the crown, he refused– even though God had promised him the kingdom BECAUSE Saul had become corrupt. (see 1 Samuel, chapters 16, 19, 23 and 24) David still prepared to become King–he learned many lessons during his exile that made him an excellent king– diplomacy, warfare, economics, and listening to his future subjects. Most importantly, he learned from the bad example of King Saul that he should not second-guess God’s purposes and timing.
Prayer isn’t about asking God to give us what we want– not on a personal level and not politically. It is about asking God to help us want what He gives!