by Tim Hall
The name Dmitry Medvedev became more prominent this week as he was elected to follow Vladimir Putin as President of Russia. Putin’s actions in recent years have been a source of concern, as he steered his country back toward authoritarian policies of the past. As Medvedev prepares to take office on May 7, questions arise about his policies. But as we contemplated possible scenarios — did we think to pray?
Other world leaders were in the news this week. Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, captured attention with militant statements about his neighbor to the north, Columbia. Tensions are mounting in South America as Columbia seeks to quell rebel activities. Chavez and others blame the United States for fanning the flames, and worries are mounting about what will follow. As we ponder the inflammatory rhetoric — did we think to pray?
Last week Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, made a visit to Iraq. Ahmadinejad’s name has frequently been in the news as his nation pursues nuclear objectives. The direction he is plotting is a cause of concern to many. When we watched images of this visit — did we think to pray?
Our prayers regularly include the obvious: healing of diseases, safety for loved ones as they travel, help for difficult tasks. The Bible endorses all of these as reasons for which to pray. But there are many other things we’re taught to include in our prayers. Do we?
Paul spoke clearly about Christians praying for political leaders: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NKJV).
We’re tempted to chuckle at the suggestion that we can do anything to affect world affairs. These rulers are removed from ordinary people. Attempts to reach them with messages and suggestions usually prove futile. What hope do I have of influencing the decisions they make or the policies they follow?
Do we walk by faith or by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)? As Paul pointed out, it is God’s will that his people pray for “kings and all who are in authority.” It may not be obvious to me how my prayers can translate into earthshaking actions, but must I understand? Should I not rather be doing what God has commanded and trust that he will take it from there?
Why aren’t conditions in the world better than they are? Perhaps part of the reason might be what James suggests: “… you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).
Instead of passively watching the news and anxiously wringing our hands, let us think to pray.
by Tim Hall