'Praying for Our Candidates' During a Hostile Election
Image: Thomas Kelley / Unsplash

In such an unorthodox election cycle, it can be hard to know what our duties and priorities as Christians should be. One thing’s for sure, though: Churches must pray for our political leaders (1 Tim 2:1–2). To help Christian leaders navigate the choppy waters surrounding political prayer, The Local Church asked three pastors two questions:

  1. What are some of your guiding principles when leading your congregation in corporate prayer for this election cycle?
  2. What’s an example of such a prayer that you would pray?

Let’s glean from their wisdom—and join them in prayer:

John Onwuchekwa, Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, Georgia:

Guiding Principles: Corporate prayer takes up a significant time of our corporate gathering—usually 15-20 minutes total, split between four prayers. So we don’t pray for our leaders merely around election cycles, but all the time.

Praying for our leaders routinely and regularly helps to remind our church that we’re appealing to someone who’s actually in control. This regularity especially helps mitigate the fears of people who tend to be consumed with politics under the sun, reminding us that our hope for change here on the earth ultimately lies beyond the sun, not under it.

We keep an eye toward unity in the church. Politics tends to divide—especially when you have a diverse church. As we pray, we’re reminded that the biggest obstacle to the church fulfilling its purpose in the world is disunity.

We pray for God to direct our national and local political leaders to promote human flourishing—all of it, from the womb to the tomb. So we’ll pray for God’s help for specific biblical concerns that aren’t usually juxtaposed politically. We know how angry God got when Aaron and the Israelites tried to “honor” him by creating a golden calf to represent his strength; we believe God’s just as offended today when we try to mold Christianity into the shape of any animal, be it donkey or elephant, so we avoid both.

Prayer: Father, the hearts of the kings, leaders, presidents, congressman, and sheriffs are streams of water in the palms of your hands. You direct them. You turn them. Every one of them is acting in such a way that will only advance the agenda that you’ve set since the beginning of time. Help us as a church to remember that truth.

As sure as some of us are panicking right now, because what seemed to be an unfathomable outcome a few months ago seems like it could actually be a possibility, I pray that you would remind us that as far as you’re concerned, there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s new to us, but you’ve seen this before. You’ve dealt with worse. You’re not panicking.

So Father, we ask that you would guide and direct our leaders—all of them—in such a way that enables us to live peaceful and quiet lives. Give our President wisdom, grace, compassion, and conviction as he’s completing his service to our country. Give him special insight and unction to have concern for the defenseless—all the little guys, from those in the womb to those who are working extremely hard but low-paying jobs that might cause them to feel ashamed of bringing new life into the world. I pray that these people, these stories, these faces would be implanted on his heart and would cause him to move out in grace and compassion.

Above all else, Father, remind us that in this room right now, though our earthly politics may differ and the human faces in charge may change, the constant is that our true king always sits on the throne and never changes. So I pray that as your will is revealed to us in the near future, we wouldn’t be gripped with fear. Knowing you means we don’t have to know the future. Remind us of that truth, and help us walk in faithfulness and unity together.

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'Praying for Our Candidates' During a Hostile Election