Each year about this time, our community hosts the Garland County Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Hundreds of our community leaders attend along with many from our county who serve in elected offices. It's a nice event. Craig O'Neil was the keynote speaker: great fun and simple wisdom. The daughter of one of our judges shared a reading about Jesus that stirred a rousing ovation from the audience. I had the privilege of praying for our leaders. Several people asked for copies of the prayer, so I thought the best way to provide that was by posting it on my blog. "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity" (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Here's the attempt I made at doing that this morning. Would you add your prayers to this one?
We praise you, our Father, because you are a great God. You spread out the heavens like a tent and rest your feet on the earth like a stool. You can hold oceans in the palm of your hands and spin a planet on your finger. You are sovereign over the whole wide world. And yet you take interest in the likes of us. Not only are you kind to your people, as Jesus tells us, you are kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked. What a great God you are. You do anything you chose to do, any time you chose to do it, without seeking the counsel of any of us. Nothing happens that takes you by surprise. You know everything there is to know. You are the one true God. There is no one greater. You are God and we praise you. Your word tells us that you put rulers in their places and that with the puff of your breath you can inflate them to glorious heights or blow them away like a tumble weed.
So Lord, we thank you for our leaders. Our hearts go out to them whether they serve in the West Wing, the halls of Congress, behind the bench, the state house, the county court house, city hall, or in superintendent’s conference rooms all over our county. Thank you for their willingness to serve. And with the abuse so many of them take, it’s a wonder anybody would want to serve at all. So in this difficult climate, help them to serve well. Give them strength to serve others rather than themselves. May the high ideals that moved them to seek office be their beacon while they’re in office. We ask that you give them common sense and a willingness to work with others, even those with whom they disagree. Help them to remember that while compromise is always a dirty word when it comes to morality, it’s usually a golden word when it comes to politics. So Lord, would it be too much to ask that you help all of our leaders seek the common good ahead of personal or party ambitions and the discernment to never confuse the two—so that they might have the courage to see things as they are, the vision to see things as they could be, and the wisdom to bridge the gap?
None of our leaders are perfect, so please give them the courage to admit their mistakes when they make them. Forgive any stubborn pride that leads them to think they are better or wiser or more patriotic than others. Raise up in them a spirit of humility that will stir them to listen more than speak, to think of others before self, and to feel a great need to pray about everything.
I suspect, Father, that those of us who have never held office can’t begin to imagine all the voices in their ears: constituents, lobbyists, party bosses, and all the rest—demanding this, expecting that, offering favors for votes. We pray that in the midst of these many voices in their ears, they may both seek and discern your voice above all the rest. For you are a God who guides, a God who is ready and willing to provide wisdom when we ask. Help our leaders to ask … and then to hear your voice and have the courage to follow your lead of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with you.
And while we get awful frustrated with our leaders sometimes, may our voices, the voices of your people, offer our leaders more than angry opinions, phony flattery, and bitter criticism. May we offer respect and civility instead. And even more, may our voices offer prayers in their behalf, just as you have commanded us to do, and just as we are doing today. Please hear and answer our prayers as you see best, in Jesus’ name, amen.