I am the first to admit that I don’t fully understand the concept of prayer. I do pray, and most of the time I feel better because I have prayed, but when I stop to consider what my praying implies about God, I am a combination of confused and embarrassed.
Do I really believe that the God who created the universe is not going to heal somebody or intervene in some situation or open some door of opportunity unless I ask God to do that? Or do I believe that God will allow a calamity to unfold unless a certain number of people beseech God to stop it? And if so, what is that number? At what point does the volume of prayer and the number of people praying about a particular matter reach “critical mass” so that God is required to respond by answering those prayers in the affirmative?
I’m just thinking out loud here. I’m not suggesting we should not pray. I’m just acknowledging that the way we pray may actually reveal a perception of God that is less than worthy of the omnipotent, omniscient deity. And I’m thinking about this subject right now because of all the people who are reminding me that the Bible says we should pray for our leaders.
Okay, I get that, but how exactly should I be praying with regard to the incoming administration and the next congress? I voted against both. If they do what they say they are going to do, I believe it will cause great harm to the nation. Should I ask God to change their way of thinking so that they will make decisions that are different from the decisions they have made in the past? And if I do pray in that way, won’t my prayers contradict those of many others who support the new administration’s proposed policies? How will God decide whose prayers to answer?
I mention all of this, not to weaken anybody’s faith, but to point out that, in this matter as well as most of life, the reality is far more complicated than it might seem at first blush. My faithfulness in following the New Testament directive to pray for those in leadership will likely take a form far different than that assumed by those who are encouraging me to pray. You see, I don’t want the incoming administration to succeed in implementing the policies they have described or to take the country in the direction they have proposed. In that regard I want them to fail spectacularly.
If God answers my prayers on behalf of the leadership that is about to take power in our nation, it will anger and disappoint most of the people who voted for the new administration. So I think that, for the most part, I am going to leave it up to them to pray for the new president and the new congress. I am going to concentrate rather on praying for the country.