There is a time for partisan debates. There is a time for bipartisan prayer. The recent shooting on a baseball field outside D.C. reminds us of the need for bipartisan prayer. Sunday, July 2, was a time our local congregation focused on prayer for elected officials. I’ll explain who we invited, what we did, and how it can be done again. Then I’ll urge biblical theology and a ready application.
First, who we invited. Rev. Matthew Barnes serves as volunteer chaplain to the Indiana Statehouse. He leads Bible studies as an encouragement to representatives. He leads events reminding believing citizens to pray for their elected officials. Barnes exhorts, “It’s hard to objectify elected officials that you actually pray for.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4, and other biblical data, urges the believing citizen to honor the governing authorities and honoring includes prayer. The Bible does not make the ability to have convictions antithetical to the ability to have compassion for elected officials (even the ones who might not share your convictions). There is a time for debate and a time for prayer. We invited twenty-one of our elected representatives to our morning worship on July 2. Among the aspects to our worship that day, we mentioned by name the ones we invited—some of which were able to join us!
Second, what we did. We not only prayed for certain elected officials by name but we also offered resources. Our members were able to receive a bookmark for a month of prayer, “31 attributes to pray for leaders.” This bookmark is made available for free by the ministry Matthew Barnes oversees: www.publicservantsprayer.org . Rev. Barnes delivered an exposition of 1 Timothy 2:1-4. He used an acronym TIPS for prayer: Thanksgiving, Intercessions, Prayer requests, and Supplications in earnest. In Barnes’ usual easy-to-listen-to-style, he conveyed a penetrating exhortation: treat your elected officials like real people with real needs. This is what we did and will do, I hope.
Third, how it can be done again. This prayer event is not a parochial one for a couple churches. Rev. Barnes is quite willing to support and receive support from new partner churches. We have been supporting public servants prayer for some years now as part of our missions. If you would like more information on supporting this ministry, after you view online, feel free to reach out. Having recently spoken with Matthew at length, and heard his heart for our great state, I’m quite sure Rev. Barnes would be glad to consider invitations to share at your church. Corporate prayer events like this can be done again and again.
Fourth, you need a biblical theology on these matters. Convictions should collide; however, convictions and compassion are not biblically antithetical. Convictions and compassion intersect, for the believer, during times of prayer. Because we live in a fallen world, you and I need reminders to do what we are supposed to do. This is where the Bible informs our actions through prayer. A whole biblical theology of church/state relations will yield results in the life of the believer. The Christian will hear from Peter and Paul and Jesus himself about how we are to honor the governing authorities (1 Peter 2), pray for them (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-4), and even pay taxes (Matthew 22). A whole biblical theology will lead the Christian into giving honor where honor is due while not violating conscience. I am not advocating this is easy but it is a command of God. This intersection of conviction and compassion is doable.
Fifth, and finally, a ready application. Governing authorities are elected by the people for the people and necessarily must hear from the people—so you need to be saying some thing to your elected officials. But the answer to our civility issues will not come simply by saying, but also by praying, for our elected officials. Inspired? Then go to publicservantsprayer.org and click on ‘receive prayer requests’ weekly. They only ask for your name and email address. Can you commit to praying weekly? Will you join the prayer club?
— This resource was released to “The Posey County News” on July 8, 2017 —