Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Praying for the President

In the circle I move in, there's nothing quite like politics to get the blood boiling.  Politics is, after all, the way we American Christians grapple with how to take dominion in the good and godly jurisdiction of government. And those of us who are passionate about this good and godly jurisdiction know that the outcome of every election cycle can bring us one step closer to blessing or destruction.

Then, of course, there are the Christians who would not deign to get their hands dirty in such a secular, filthy pursuit. "I only care about the Gospel," they sniff, as if the Gospel-driven Christian would not care about God's jurisdiction of government. That seems misguided to me, considering the all-encompassing range of the Cross's finished work.

We can disagree about whether the American Christian should or should not care about government. But we cannot disagree about God's marching orders to every Christian citizen on the planet. We must pray for our leaders.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
Today is Inauguration Day. President Obama begins his second term as arguably the most Constitutionally dangerous president of our time--after FDR and Woodrow Wilson.  He will assemble his cabinet and his closest advisers, architect his foreign and domestic policies, and move forward with his agenda to dismantle our individual liberty.

But, love him or hate him, he will be the most powerful man on the planet for the next four years, and he will feel that burden acutely. He will be asked to handle crises and make critical decisions in the blink of an eye. If we have national emergencies, he is the one who will be expected to maintain poise and offer comfort. And he will age. Power and authority and 'the buck stops here' does that to a president.

Love him or hate him? Hate him, dear Christian? I wish it weren't so, but there are Christians of my acquaintance who hate our president. They withhold their prayers for the president like the four-year old who decides to get even with his parents by breaking his own toys. They bluster childishly, "He's not my president."

Please. Yes, he is your president. He won the election, even if you didn't vote for him. That's how elections work. And, yes, you have to pray for him. And, yes, it would be best if you would start by praying for his salvation. That's how adult Christians behave.

But perhaps you think he is beyond the power of salvation. He's too wicked for the Gospel. Then let me introduce you to two evil kings who were humbled--and saved--by the mighty hand of God.

King Manasseh became king of Judah when he was twelve years old. Raised by his father, Hezekiah, he must have had plenty of exposure to good and godly governing. But Manasseh was not like his father, and the blessing which Hezekiah had brought to the kingdom of Judah by purging the land of wickedness was short-lived. Evil came back to Judah, and Manasseh led the way, enthusiastically and capably.
He rebuilt the abominable high places.
He built altars for Baal and Asherah.
He worshiped the stars.
He built an image in the Lord's house.
He sacrificed his son by burning him on an altar.
He consulted occult practitioners.
He provoked the Lord to anger.

It's that last one that makes me quake. Even the most simple-minded Christian can see that things looked dire for King Manasseh. And his situation did, indeed, turn dire. The Lord sent the army of Assyria who captured him with hooks (I don't know what that means--but it cannot have been good) and took him away. But there in the darkness and despair of his captivity--which was a direct consequence to his own sin--there, lying in the bed he had made, so to speak, he finally turned to God. Now that is remarkable.

Yet even more remarkable than Manasseh turning to God is that God turned to Manasseh. In fact, God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. (2Chron 33)

But most remarkable of all?
Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
He restored the altar of the Lord.
He commanded Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.
Where is evil King Manasseh today? I strongly suspect he's casting his crown around the throne of King Jesus.

Wicked kings and radical conversions, though, were not just found in Israel.
Nebuchadnezzar was no ordinary king; he was more like an emperor. And his Babylonian Empire was known and feared the world over. Thus, he would stand at his balcony, survey his lands, and applaud his own might and glory. In short, he loved his power and his position. But God does not brook with pride or share His glory, and the die was cast. Nebuchadnezzar would be humbled.

Nebuchadnezzar was driven by God into the wilderness where he lived like an animal, unkempt and eating grass, devoid of human reason. At the end of this madness, his reason returned to him. And what was a wilderness to the unredeemed eye was really just part of the Creator's great cathedral. Then this humbled emperor looked up, and he lowered his voice. He acknowledged that God alone is mighty and glorious, and he bent his knee to the Creator/Redeemer God.  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, for all His works are right and His ways are just. (Daniel 4:37)
Where is Nebuchadnezzar now?
Probably sitting next to Manasseh.

If God is able to redeem wicked Manasseh and arrogant Nebuchadnezzar, is He not able to save President Obama? So pray. Pray for salvation to come to the Obama household. And if you find yourself believing that Mr. Obama doesn't deserve God's mercy and grace, then you don't understand the power of the Gospel. And you don't understand the stories of King Manasseh and King Nebuchadnezzar. Don't for one minute think that Mr. Obama is too wicked for God's salvation.
God saved you, didn't He?

Besides, there is a supernatural transaction that takes place when you pray for your president. Some time may elapse, but obeying God's commands will change your heart. It can endear him to you. I've been praying for Mr.Obama for four years now. He's my president. Prayer humanizes him to me and reminds me that he is made in the image of God. It binds him to me in my heart. I disdain everything this governor stands for; I disdain his contempt for the rule of law and liberty. But I am genuinely concerned for him as a lost soul who is not yet in right standing with God.

Let's go to the Throne of Grace for our president.
Let's bang down the doors of Heaven for his redemption.
Let us, who are dearly loved children of the Father, make intercession for one who is not.

And let's remember that wicked-kings-and-radical-conversions is Gospel business. 

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