By James J. Jackson
Politicians often accuse the so-called ‘Christian Right’ of believing they have God’s ear more than those of other political persuasions. Many Christians do, indeed, believe God is on their side. President Abraham Lincoln was once asked if he believed God was on his side. Lincoln’s reply was, ‘… Let us not pray that God is on our side…, but let us pray that we are on God’s side.’
When faced with political choices, it is important that we seek God’s will, and try to discern whether a politician, law or concept follows or violates God’s stated word. But, because of our failed human nature, we often bring our own agendas and biases along whenever we are faced with a political situation or life decision.
We develop loyalty to a particular party or group, and, then, find it hard to vote or speak out against the positions of that group or party. Some legislation seems to clearly defy God’s teaching and Commandments. Many issues are not morally wrong, but simply are not in good taste, or may not be what is best for the public at that time. So, it is easy to find ourselves unclear as to how the Lord would have us vote
So, should Christians remove ourselves from the arena of ideas, and refuse to take a stand on political issues? How does a Christian determine which side to pray for? What if you are wrong in your estimation of who is telling the truth and who may have a hidden agenda? Some Christians just try to ignore the whole political scene. Some call themselves ‘Independent’, which they believe gives them cover and removes them from the responsibility of having to take a stand.
My wife and I struggled with this issue for many years. What if our stand on our chosen politician or party or issue is simply wrong, deceptive or totally misinformed? Politics is a much more serious game than praying for your favored sports team to win, or praying for a specific outcome in a serious medical matter, etc. As I once wrote concerning the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ fad, we must be careful not to make our decision, and then ascribe that decision to Jesus, rather than truly trying to discern His will in a given situation.
After prayerful consideration, and searching the Scriptures, we decided that, as Christians, we should pray that the Lord would, first, look into our hearts and expose any blind spots or hidden motives we may be harboring. Psalms 139 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Likewise, we should pray that God will search the hearts of those He has placed in leadership, and to lead those who will follow Him. As we do our daily devotions and prayers, we ask the Lord to look into the hearts and motives of our political leaders, and to confuse, confound and expose any motives that are not in step with His will. We ask that He turn the hearts around to Him.
Praying in this manner concerning politics means that one may be asking for your favorite candidate or issue to be exposed, confused and confounded, if it is not in line with the Lord’s will. We are, however, willing to take that risk in order that God’s will, not ours, be done.
We cannot pretend to know God’s will better than anyone else, but we can trust that He, who knows all, will make that determination and act accordingly.