Like many, I found this election season to be quite disheartening, from the amount of money spent and the entailments which comes with such fundraising, to the vitriolic language and the clear sense that many Americans feel left out of “the system.” I was disappointed by the outcome of the election in terms of who won, and am grieved by the cost that comes to our nation from stirring up such fear and hatred. The most frequent command in the Bible is “be not afraid.” That does not mean that we can’t have legitimate concerns, but it is a reminder that fear tends to make us self-protective and less likely to love others and trust God. To the extent that this campaign contributed to diminishing love and faith in God we all are losers.
In my best moments, I ask myself what should I be doing to keep myself grounded in God as I process this difficult situation. It is easy for me to fall into a worry-laden mindlessness that drains me and shifts my focus from Christ’s kingdom to my troubling ruminations. As I mused on my response, I settled quickly on the decision to pray for the transition to the new administration. The Bible contains commands and examples of praying for leaders. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). It doesn’t take much reflection to see that this admonition calls me to pray for our new President. A deep sense of God’s loving providence will shape my prayer. I am aware that “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” And in this same chapter we are told “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:1, 3) so my prayer should be tied with actions that promote righteousness.
Of course, this is not to privilege prayer as the primary response or the only one I will undertake. I may also march, write, or sign a petition, but for the good of the country and preservation of my soul, I will pray.
I decided to use a technique that is popular for behavioral change. I created a clear and measurable goal—to pray every day for the presidential transition and formation of the new cabinet—and to clearly track my fulfillment of this goal by placing an X on my wall calendar. This is a goal that can be easily measured and tracked. And I invite you to join me on this adventure of intercession.