Yesterday, we learned that President Obama would continue in the White House for the next four years. And yesterday, the morning psalm prescribed by the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer was Psalm 72:
“Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!” (ESV).
The psalms for each day in the Book of Common Prayer are usually chosen at random, but I think God certainly uses this supposed randomness to speak to us in important ways. This psalm is a powerful prayer for Israel’s national leader, and I think we would do well to pray it for our own leaders, especially the president. Regardless of the candidate for whom we voted, regardless of our party affiliation or political views, we are called to pray for them. Paul tells us, “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 2:1-2). It’s easy for me to get cynical about politics. It’s easy for me to be lazy about praying for our politicians. But God wouldn’t ask us to pray if he didn’t intend to hear and answer.
These verses also tell us how to pray for our leaders: ask God to make them just and righteous judges, defenders of the poor and of children, punishers of those who oppress the needy, and facilitators of peaceful and godly living. And in addition to interceding for our leaders, we are to give thanks for them.
Our democratic society puts a lot of emphasis on voting as one of our most important civic responsibilities, and one of our most valuable privileges. How much more important is it, then, for the citizens of the kingdom of God to pray for our nation and its political leaders!