Your Most Important Political Activity
Have you noticed that the most politically engaged people are often the most angry? Our "culture of outrage" (often stimulated by the latest real or perceived political atrocity) triggers some of the most sensitive aspects of our souls, plunging us - individually and collectively - into a perpetual frenzy.
Over the years I've seen friends on Facebook from all political stripes bitterly request that they be "unfriended" if any of their "friends" hold political views they believe to be wicked, evil, immoral, unjust, unconscionable, deplorable; fill-in-the-blank. People are actually stating that they wish to eliminate from their lives those who would dare to contradict their understanding, especially when it pertains to politics. We've become a nation of Dr. Evil's, pushing a button to drop our political adversaries into the proverbial lake of fire.
Anger is what pours out of us when we feel out of control; when we perceive that the world is slouching towards Gomorrah and that the Lo-- - I mean, politicians - are getting things wrong. "Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (or the fingers type)" (Luke 6:45).
Of course, there is such a thing as righteous anger, which is another topic for another day. Some policies are so egregious that our fury should be aroused and we should be propelled into action. But when it comes to politics, the most common form of anger seems to be of a less noble type. And sadly, our expressions of it - especially on social media - are all too often, our most tried and trusted political weapon.
But what if there's something more potent in our arsenal?
I would suggest that the most vital, most practical, most powerful, most proactive political activity in which we can be engaged is prayer.
And now this article just became boring. You've heard this before. Yawn.
Just bear with me for a bit.
Prayer is not the resigned sentiment of passive, lazy, detached individuals with little concern for the extension of God's justice and peace in the world. Instead, it is the conscious activity of people who know that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, our battle is not, fundamentally, one of politics and policy. The battle is spiritual. And spiritual conflicts require spiritual weapons. It is a fool’s errand to spew anger on social media and start deleting friends without having first, sought the Lord, diligently, to transform your heart and mind, our fellow citizens, and those who govern us.
We don't pray because "prayer changes things." Prayer doesn't change a thing. God changes things. And we don't pray because we believe in the “power of prayer.” Prayer isn’t powerful. God is. Prayer is simply the means by which we abandon all hope in ourselves and others and instead, petition the One who rules and reigns and works in the lives of people - including our representatives in government - to accomplish His purposes. He is the King and the Sovereign over all things, including our political leaders, whose hearts are "stream(s) of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will" (Proverbs 21:1).
If this is indeed the case, then going to the Lord on behalf of those who govern us - praying specifically that their decisions would cause ”justice (to) roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:24) and enabling us to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:2) - is far and away the most worthwhile political activity in which you can be engaged; more so than voting, posting on social media, calling your representatives, protesting, boycotting, or anything else.
When we pray we are acknowledging that our hope is not ultimately in those who occupy positions of political power (Psalm 146:3), however important their role is. Instead, we are giving tangible expression to the fact that our hope, above all, is in the King of kings and Lord of lords to work all things according to the counsel of His own will, including the decisions of those in civil authority.
Do you want to see things change? Then let your first political instinct be that which will do more good than anything else: Stop, wait, think, and pray.