Today a new president takes office in Washington, DC. It is a historic day for many reasons, but as Americans, it is a day to pray with particular fervency.
First of all, we need to give God our thanks. We live in a unique nation, where power has always been transferred peacefully. Even in 1876, when Rutherford B. Hayes beat Samuel Tilden by one electoral vote; even in 2000, when "hanging chads" and other disputes kept the result of the election in doubt for weeks, there were no threats of armed revolt. No one tried to take the presidency by force. Last night, President-elect Obama and Senator McCain spoke graciously of one another at a public event. McCain said, "He's our president. His success is our success." As I type this, the small TV in my office is showing the Obamas being warmly greeted by the Bushes. In our violent world, such a peaceful transfer of power is all too rare.
We should give thanks also that we live in a country where a man from a minority background can be elected president. This of course has not always been the case in America. Racial equality in our nation has been hard-earned and is still not fully realized. But this election confirmed many of the best things we want to believe about America--that this is indeed a land of opportunity.
But we also should offer up intercessory prayers for our new leaders. In our partisan political system, we often give in to the notion that our political opposite is our enemy. We forget that, ultimately, we're on the same team. As Christians, we should take seriously Paul's words in Romans 13, where he said that earthly governments are God's tool to promote justice and righteousness and to punish evil. Peter commanded us to pray for our earthly leaders. Keep in mind that when those sage apostles wrote, the earthly rulers to whom they subjected themselves and for whom they diligently prayed were pagan Roman emporers. How much more should we lift up DAILY our president and his leaders? If they govern with courage and wisdom, then we all win. And so we should pray that they would have wisdom to make good choices, courage to do what is right even when it's not politically expedient, and physical protection for themselves and their families.
But most of all, we should remember to pray for revival in our land. As important as a president may be (he's not called The Most Powerful Man in the World for nothing), his significance pales in comparison to that of the Body of Christ. We, who are called by the name of Christ, are His Light, His Salt in this world that so desperately needs it. And we have not represented Him well in recent years. I will not take the time to enumerate our various failings, or the ills of society that have come about because of our spiritual mediocrity. But let's all agree that we need revival...we need a fresh touch of God's Spirit, leading to confession, repentance, and a real transformation. We need, in Ezekiel's terms, to see the dry bones of our faith come back to life again, so that once more we can show people the real Hope of the world.
And so may it be, Lord. Amen.