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Why Do I Have to Pray for Leaders Who Frighten Me?

The year 2020 has been downright crazy in so my unexpected ways: disease, political upheaval, and plenty of disrupted plans. This year people across the world have felt the impact of the coronavirus. Best case, they dealt with physical distancing. Worst case, they or someone they knew succumbed to the virus.

Making matters worse, this year is an election year. America has become quite tumultuous in almost every way imaginable.

Politics have intruded upon the lives of citizens in far too many ways. Sports have become political. Food has become political. Gaming. Television. Everything.

Unplugging from politics right now is virtually impossible. And those who were not very political to begin with have been thrust into choosing a side. Left versus Right. Democrats versus Republicans.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or another party is of no consequence to God.

I, the Lord, examine the mind, I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve. – Jeremiah 17:10

God is after our hearts, not verifying we are a part of the correct political party. There is no correct party.

On my drive to church, I often see a woman with a signpost in her yard that reads “Jesus Democrat.” I wonder what she would think of me as a Christian who votes Republican.

Right now, Donald Trump and Joe Biden represent warring parts of American society. On both sides are Christian believers. Though God has surely not called us into a war, especially with each other, everyone feels inclined to believe that they are right and will only vote and pray for the leader who best supports them.

Where in the Bible did God call us to pray for only select people? Nowhere.

Still, Christians and non-Christians alike spew hate for the leader of the opposite party. This a choice not reflective of Scripture, but of personal decisions we make when we live invested in politics instead of Christ.

If you are asking yourself the question, why do I have to pray for leaders who frighten me, then I would like to present to you 3 reasons:

Reason One: God Loves Them

I enjoy listening to political commentator Andrew Klavan. While he is unabashedly conservative, he made a very good point one day to mention that God loves Democrats and Republicans. Why, you might wonder.

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.' – Genesis 1:26

God has made humans in his image, not just one political party.

If Trump and Biden are made in God’s image then they already have inherent worth to God. And who are we to see God’s image reflected in a person and still deem that person unworthy?

When God sent his Son to die for sinners, he didn’t check for political affiliations beforehand. Everyone qualified because everyone was a sinner. Our leaders are sinners.

That fact doesn’t stop them from being loved by God.

Neither Trump nor Biden is perfect. They both have made, are making, and will make mistakes. After all, they are sinners. Does God love them any less?

Is God’s love contingent upon who is in control or who creates specific policies?

When we can see other human beings as image-bearers of God, we start to see them as loveable, capable, yet flawed people. We will be better able to appreciate their value just as God does.

multicultural hands forming heart healing racismPhoto Credit: ©GettyImages/wildpixel

Reason Two: Love Thy Neighbor

Far too often in talks about politics, people shame and name-call members of the other side. I have heard phrases to disqualify another’s mental capability, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality.

I recently learned of a friend of mine being labeled “cishet” (I had to look that one up!).

What people are doing when they say hateful things, especially Christians, is they are forgetting to show love.

Showing love is difficult when you don’t see another as an image-bearer of God. Once you make that connection you can remind yourself that loving our neighbors is the second greatest commandment.

The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:39

When you see Trump or Biden, are you expressing love as you would to yourself?

Some Christians hold on to their hate for leaders because of policies they disagree with, policies that they feel act against humankind. The Bible has an answer for that, too.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. – Romans 12:14

Bless and do not curse. Every time someone says a swear word or speaks ill omens over someone, they are cursing. They are wishing bad upon someone, and at the very least are spreading their toxic hate to anyone who will listen.

Even if you don’t support a particular policy, everyone has the choice to pray for a leader. I have never voted for someone with whom I agreed with on every single idea.

I’ve never had a relationship with a family member, friend, or significant other where we agreed on everything.

Should I curse them for disagreeing?

Chances are everyone in your life differs with you on something, including your desired leader.

Where we earnestly feel correct and the other is wrong, we can pray that God works within that person’s heart to help them change. And if we are wrong, we can pray that God changes us.

Curses we shout at others will fall on deaf ears, and in the end, we are the ones sinning and not showing love.

Reason Three: Forgiveness

Sometimes our leaders do bad. Sometimes they do evil. Turns out I have too. What about you?

Sin should not be overlooked in their lives, nor our own. Too many people focus on what political leaders are doing incorrectly and how they will ruin the country. How many of those individuals talk as openly about their own sin and wrongdoing?

What should we do in face of the sins of others? Hint—the same thing God does for our sin.

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses. – Matthew 6:14-15

When we see our leaders commit wrong, we harp on their sin. We harp on their sin so much it seems as though we ourselves are guiltless.

Do we spend that much time telling God or others about our sin? Or do we brush that under the rug?

Our leaders will fail us at times, whether we voted for them or not. They are human, just like us.

Where they fail, we can respond with forgiveness.

So We Pray

We can take these three reasons as evidence that God wants us to pray with a loving heart for everyone, including our leaders. Including people with different political ideologies.

This world is not our home. Heaven will be, one day. Thus, the leaders who serve over us today do so temporarily. Our Father in Heaven loves us and works on our behalf forever.

So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Let’s be sure to not allow politics to take the place of our religion. God is our leader more than the people we vote into office.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/stevanovicigor

headshot of author Aaron BrownAaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.

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This article is part of our Prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.

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