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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Your Prayer and Your Vote: A Kingdom Perspective


As our nation goes to the polls tomorrow, let us remember the first election recorded in the New Testament:

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. 

In these verses we verses we have the first election process requiring a vote that is recoded for us in the New Testament. Notice what they did before the elections......they prayed.

How on earth do we pray?
Do we even bother to pray when it seems almost a foregone conclusion who will win?
If we support the party which “will” win, how do we resist feeling insignificant?
If we do not support that party, how do we resist feeling hopeless?

Prayer is incredibly important, not only because an election affects the lives of every citizen whether we support the ruling party or not, but also because governments can be, (they are not always), but they can be powerful agents of God’s Kingdom breaking into the world. Therefore we must pray – we have a duty to pray.

I have no authority to tell you who to vote for, but I have a duty to try and teach us how to pray.

My point of departure is that my readers are people who believe and know that the Spirit of God is present and moving amongst us. With that as our starting point we need a vision, an idea of what it is that we hope for, and I want to suggest the following:

The rebirth of South Africa as a nation transformed not simply by new political structures, but by the power of God’s Spirit and by a passion (on our part as Christians) to see Christian values, Christian vision, at the heart of our nation.

That’s a vision that I think we can all hope for and pray for.

How can it come about?  The words of the famous first Chancellor of the German Empire, Otto Von Bismarck, are relevant:

A statesman must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment” 

Has this happened before – is it too much to hope for? As always, we begin in the Word:

In another small nation, many years ago, God decided that what Israel needed was a new kind of leadership.  The old discredited leadership under Saul had singularly failed the people, leaving them divided, discouraged and disillusioned. It was a defining moment. Few people at the time, if any, could have foreseen the long-term consequences. A new leadership under David was raised up to unify the divided people, to bring hope to the discouraged people, to offer at long last credible, godly leadership to a disillusioned people and all this is recorded in Scripture. Their task under this God-given leadership was to hear the steps of God, fulfil the purpose of God in their generation and thus restore the Glory of God to the land following many wasted years characterised by sleaze and sin. Central to that purpose was a small but significant grouping, a prophetic task force, the men of Issachar, gifted with spiritual discernment and thus able to bring at this critical time spiritual direction. They understood the times.They knew what it was God was calling them to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). We Christians are called, equipped and empowered to be today's people of Issachar.

So, by faith we see it’s possible, if it happened in the Bible, it can happen today.  That belief is what makes us the Christian FAITH.

How to pray
 Pray for our statesmen and women, maybe even just one to hear the steps of God sounding through events, and then leap up and grab the hem of His garment.
 Pray for a group of people, Christians gifted with spiritual discernment, to gain the respect and the ear of our political leaders in order to give the Spiritual Direction just like the men of Issachar gave Spiritual Direction to Israel’s Leadership.
Pray for the following principles/ideals to be born in our nation and in our rulers:
that people will matter more than things
that parties will matter less than principles
that God will matter most of all

Finally, we need to pray for a new kind of politics.  Jim Wallis, a Christian author, has written “So there is need for a new kind of politics based on a renewed moral perspective.  Central to it will be a new spirituality creating a moral sensitivity that refuses to separate political ideas from their consequences for human beings and for the rest of creation.”  He concludes, “We need a politics that offers something we haven’t had in a long time.  A vision of transformation.

Please don’t let satan tempt you to believe that this is too much for which to pray and to hope

I said earlier has this happened before and gave an example from the Bible, I want to close with a true story from more recent history.

In Norway in September 1997, Christians prayed and fasted for a God-given leadership and righteous government.  Against all the odds, a new force, a Christian force emerged and a Christian prime minister was elected in Norway. Read more here and here

Only God knows our future, but I find this story encouraging – where prayer and petition have made a Kingdom difference.

Prayer and petition will make a lasting difference but they need to go hand-in-hand, and so let us

pray.

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