The pursuit of prayer comes with a host of challenges. This has often been especially true when attempting to encourage the church in observing the call to petition our Lord on behalf of our political leaders.
As a means of better knowing how to pray for our current president after his first election, I read his two books, The Audacity of Hope and Dreams From My Father. What better way of knowing the real story behind a person? Several months latter, I decided to write a small book with specific guidance on how to pray for the new president, titled Obama Prayer: Prayers for the 44th President. Literally millions of copies were sold as churches and Christians throughout the nation caught the vision to regularly pray for President Obama and his administration.
No, that really only happened in my “Dreams.” The true number sold was around 2,000.
The book did receive a decent amount of coverage, though. I was interviewed for radio shows, news paper and magazine articles, and reviews by various bloggers. One reviewer wrote:
“I was not looking forward to reading or reviewing this book. As a reviewer, it is easy to fall into the trap of judging a book by its cover, title, or subject matter. Quite honestly, I did that on all three accounts with Obama Prayer…”
In his case, he went on to read the book and wrote a kind review. Others, though, could not get past the cover and wrote articles expressing their disapproval of the concept of the book despite having not read it. For a host of reasons, they thought that a politician or this politician was not a suitable person to pray for.
So what have I learned over the past years?
The Scriptures are clear regarding the call for the church to pray for those in positions of national leadership, and there are many practical reasons to pray for the health of our leaders. (The influence any presidential administration has on our country and world is significant; we benefit when righteous policies are established.)
But the things that are most easily understood and most affordable to accomplish can also be most challenging to actually do. Why? In some cases it is the challenge of time stewardship—our daily schedules get very full very quickly, and it’s easy to put off making time to pray for someone we don’t know or don’t like. In other cases, though, we may have improperly integrated our political views into our understanding of what it means to follow Christ and submit to his word.
I differ in many ways with President Obama and the direction of his administration. At the same time I am compelled to pray for him and his well-being out of my love for Christ.