How Should Christians Pray During Elections? – The Gospel Coalition

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Mika Edmonson: Dr. Moore, what do you think? How should Christians pray during election season?

Russell Moore: Well, I think there’s one part of it about praying generally, and then one praying in terms of themselves. So I think the Bible teaches us to pray for rulers and all those who are in authority so that we can live quiet lives, live out the mission of the church, 1st Timothy 2. So a sense of praying for God’s will to be done, for wisdom and discernment for people as they’re making these choices, for the people who are potentially in those roles that they would be wise and discerning and just. And then to continue to pray for those people afterward, which sometimes it’s easy for people to do if they’re praying for somebody they like. And not easy for people to do if they’re praying for somebody that they don’t, especially because it’s hard to pray for success, even in good things for somebody that you think is not good. And that’s hard to do, but to do that.

And then I think to pray for ourselves. And I think that means knowing some vulnerabilities. So if you’re the sort of person who’s vulnerable to political idolatry, praying for distance from that. And if you’re somebody who’s given to just withdrawal from your responsibilities to other people, to pray for the courage to be engaged in some way or other. So I think those are the two ways that I would sketch it out. How about you? How would you encourage people to pray?

Mika Edmonson: Well, I think particularly of Jesus’s prayer in John 17 where He prayed for the unity of His people. And I think that’s something that we really need to be thinking about as we move into an increasingly polarized time in the national discourse and in our world, to be praying that the Lord would uphold and preserve the unity of God’s people, a conspicuous unity that actually is different than what we see in the world. And so we can definitely be praying about that. And I think we can be certain that Jesus is also as our Great, High Priest continuing to pray on our behalf of that. So that’s a big one.

Also, I would say humility. We need to really be praying that the Lord would give us a real sense of humility and empathy. Just an ability to really consider others’ interests before our own right, to be able to weep with those who weep. And I think it takes a real, gospel perspective and gospel insight and gospel faith to be able to actually take upon ourselves the kind of sorrows, the kind of burdens that our neighbors have, particularly neighbors that aren’t like us. And so I think we should be praying for that, for unity, for humility, and definitely for empathy.

Russell Moore: And one of the things that comes along with that is usually these… Well, for a long time now in American life anyway, at election time, everything becomes apocalyptic. This is the most important election in our lifetime. We’ve heard that every four years. And so it always seems that way because there is a lot at stake in these things. And so having a sense of recognizing really that entertainment basis of political life is not something that we’re called to as Christians. And so to have this sense of either, if whoever I voted for wins, I’m exuberant, it’s like, “I win,” that’s not really true. And if somebody I didn’t like wins and that means everything’s over, everything falls apart. Well, that’s not true either. And so just having that healthy sense of knowing what’s at stake, which is big in a lot of cases in people’s lives, but also having a confidence in Jesus in terms of where things are going.

Mika Edmonson: That’s exactly right. One of the things I think that oftentimes is undermined in election seasons is our moral perspective. We oftentimes, we focus in on the things that our particular parties or place in the political discourse seems to focus in on. And sometimes we ignore the very real and good things that maybe someone else’s is lifting up because they’re part of the other side. And sometimes we even do that at the expense of our understanding of scripture. We just downplay those things. If we’re a person that’s really into things like respect for authority, patriotism, those kinds of things, we really focus on those sometimes. And we might, maybe we shy away from talks about things like justice and things like equity and things like fairness. And it can go in the reverse. We can focus in on one set of moral concerns at the expense of another. So it’s really helpful, I think that it’s really important, that we pray that the Lord would keep us open to all that He would say from His word. And embracing everything, the whole counsel of God during election season.

Russell Moore: I often tell people, “If you agree with your political party on everything, then it might be that your doctrine of inspiration is in whatever your party’s platform is in and not in … because otherwise, any human, document or movement, you’re going to say, “Well, because of God’s creation, there are some things there that are good probably, and of fallenness, there are going to be some things in there that are bad.” And we don’t belong to anybody. We have to be the people that are saying, “Well, Jesus is Lord.” And so that means that we can find areas to work with all sorts of people and we can find areas to critique in all sorts of people.

Mika Edmonson: That’s right.

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