And what might happen if they did?
It’s obvious that we are not doing that. Regularly, we have reports of Christian families intensely and painfully divided over politics. “Not-Trump!” and “Yes-Trump!” Christians too often say nasty things about each other. It seems very difficult (although we should keep trying) to do what I said in my last blog--namely gather discussion groups together with substantial numbers of Democrats, Republicans and Independents and listen respectfully and reflect together on the 2020 elections.
But what if we just came together to pray? What if all we did together was to pray, asking God to guide all Christians (and all American citizens) as they ponder how to vote this year?
It Is crucial to remember what “Not-Trump!” and “Yes-Trump!” Christians have in common. We all want Jesus to be the center of our lives. We all want Christ, the risen Lord, to guide every part of our behavior including our politics. And we all – theoretically at least – think our oneness in Christ should be more important than any political disagreements.
Furthermore, we all treasure the freedom of our American democracy. We all want this nation to continue to exist and thrive as a democracy in freedom, peace and justice. And we all --at least to some degree-- are fearful that current deep divisions and vicious debates threaten that democratic future.
Could we not come together in small (even large) groups to beg God’s help? Together we could ask God to please guide the 2020 elections (for President, Congress and state and local offices) so that what God knows would be best for our beloved country would prevail. We could ask God to please help us see what is right and wrong in our current political views. We could (silently!) ask God to please help those who disagree with us to see what is wrong and (ok, and right too!) in their views.
I want God’s help to know where my current political views are misguided. So, I hope, does every Christian who confesses Jesus as Lord.
I dream about all kinds of sizes of prayer groups developing in the next nine months: little ones in homes; larger ones as several churches come together; even citywide or national prayer events. Families deeply divided over politics could decide to spend part of their family gatherings simply praying together for God’s guidance in 2020. Perhaps we could invite pastors with different political and racial constituencies to come together for joint prayer meetings. Jim Wallis and Franklin Graham could even lead a national prayer day in Washington!
It would be absolutely essential that every prayer group have a strict rule: absolutely no political debate about the issues and candidates. Simply joint intercession by “Not-Trump!” and “Yes-Trump!” Christians that God guide voters to make the right decisions in 2020. Hopefully, the prayer groups would meet regularly until November 3.
(Note: Do NOT stop working for the political candidates you think would be best for the country. I intend to do all I can in that regard even as I seek to pray with those who disagree vigorously with me.)
What would happen if “Not-Trump” and “Yes-Trump” Christians started praying together? Only God knows. But II Chronicles 7:14 contains a powerful promise: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
Only very carefully should we apply this text (given for Israel’s theocracy) to our pluralistic democratic society that guarantees equal citizenship for people of every faith and no faith. America is not a Christian nation-- although some Christian values have helped shape it. To consider America a Christian nation with a special relationship to God not enjoyed by every other nation is idolatry.
But if all (or even just a few!) Americans who confess Jesus Christ as Lord would prayerfully ask God to show us where our political views need to be changed; if American Christians would humble themselves to pray together with other Christians who sharply disagree with them on political issues; if American Christians would ask for forgiveness for failing to remember the oneness of the body of Christ and for failing to listen to and respect the views of Christians with different political views ; if that happened, I believe God would hear from heaven and help guide our nation to good decisions this November.
We know from American history that great revivals that reshaped American history regularly started with small groups of people praying fervently that God would act powerfully in their midst. And God did.
So I am asking God: where can I pray together with Christians who disagree sharply with my political views? I encourage you to ask God the same for yourself. And I also encourage you to ask your pastor and other Christian leaders to think about the same thing for themselves and their people.
If you think this is a good idea, share this blog with a few friends and talk with them about working together to organize this kind of prayer group. Also encourage your pastor and other Christian leaders to think about doing the same thing for themselves and their people.
(Note: I want to thank one of the regular readers of my blog for this basic suggestion which emerged as she pondered my previous blog.)
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