Let’s Not Pray for What We Deserve

praying-manOriginally written for the Illinois Family Institute, an organization worthy of your prayers and support.  

by Rev. James M. McDonald

There is no doubt about it, many of us are hoping that 2016 will bring real change. Remembering back to the mantras of 2008, there were those who were anticipating “hope and change.” However, what we have seen over the course of the past eight years is not only more of the same, but a continual slide into social, economic, international, and moral chaos. And as a result, we continue to petition the Throne of Heaven, seeking real and fundamental change.

However, as we turn to the only One who can indeed bring real change, it’s fitting to consider how we should approach His Throne. The Apostle Paul encourages us to pray, specifically for our political situation, in his first letter to Timothy, and chapter 2 where he says, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

Reflecting on this verse we see the reality that prayer indeed does change things. Prayer indeed does bring hope. Paul encouraged the people of his day to pray for civil authorities that were in many ways far worse than the man who currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. At least in our day, we don’t see Christians being used as sport of the Coliseum or being used to light the path to the Capital Building.

If they were encouraged to pray in their day, we should understand that that mandate is for us as well. And there is hope for us as we pray, and that is that we might lead quiet and peaceable lives. In other words, we pray that the government would simply leave us alone. At least, that’s as far as most people’s prayers actually go.

But perhaps that’s why we are where we are. Perhaps that’s why we have the situation in our nation today, where we see unrest in our cities, we see our economy in shambles, we see our foreign policy in disarray. Perhaps were praying for the wrong thing. You see the issue is this, this Scripture in 1st Timothy calls us to not only pray for the government so that we might lead quiet lives, but that we might live such lives in all godliness and reverence.

I think that’s where the real problem is today. Godliness is out of vogue. Reverence is passé. Instead of seeing the law of God as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, we have turned into a nation where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. What we have before us today is a new and very secular commandment: to sin is not a sin, but to call a sin a sin is a sin.

And, sadly, our situation is not new. Throughout the Bible, we see times where God’s people faced political unrest and international intrigue. But the majority of those times were the result of the people of God turning away from God, and then God’s judgment came.

Perhaps that is where we are today. We have the current president that we have because of our own ignorance of what is right. We have the unborn being slaughtered, we have the decadent paraded as wholesome, we have raised up a generation who believe that their true source comes in the form of a check postmarked from Washington DC or Springfield Illinois. We no longer seek godliness, no longer desire to live lives that reflect reverence.

I believe it crucial that we pray for the upcoming elections. We all should be setting aside a significant amount of time to make sure that God hears our cries. But friends, if we are only crying out so that we might lead a life that is quiet and peaceable, in other words where we have lower taxes and the vagabonds off the streets, I fear we will continue to get what we deserve.

Let us remember the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

It is time to turn from wickedness, to repent, and to seek the face of Almighty God.

And to make it legal, the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the other elders or members of Providence Church.

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