According to a poll conducted by Barna between Sept. 24-28, 2020, nearly 75% of pastors are concerned that the US federal election on Nov. 3, has the potential to negatively impact their congregations.
The poll that involved 475 protestant pastors found that 33% of pastors said they were very concerned and 41% stated they were somewhat concerned.
But there was an interesting second question. When asked if they were concerned that the election could potentially cause division in their church, 65% said they weren’t concerned, while 35% said they were somewhat or very concerned it would.
It is clear from this poll that many church leaders are concerned about the impact governments are having on church life.
These are difficult days for believers. We have seen governments unfairly shutting down church services while allowing similar secular businesses or organizations to stay open.
I recently reported on how the city of San Francisco, as part of its Covid lockdown, limited indoor church services to just ONE person while not restricting businesses, with a similar impact, such as gyms or casinos, in the same way.
Many consider this a blatant discrimination against believers done under the guise of protecting people during the pandemic.
It is so easy to criticize governments these days as they are purposefully impacting our lives in very severe ways.
I remember a friend telling me after he fell into the habit of being critical of politicians, he decided that every time this happened, he pledged to also pray for them. In today’s climate all he would be doing is praying for political leaders.
But we are told by the Apostle Paul to pray for those in authority in 2 Timothy 2:1-3, and as I will show shortly, it is also a very annoying passage.
As, we read these three verses, it is important to keep in mind that the King in Paul’s day was Nero.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.(2 Timothy 2:1-3)
So, what is so annoying about Paul’s exhortation?
Well, Paul says as we pray and intercede for our leaders, we need to also be giving “thanks,” for them.
Yes, we need to give thanks for our political leaders, even the ones we don’t like.
In other words, we need to soften our attitude about politicians, or we will fall into the trap that everything they do is wrong, including the things they do that are right.
We need to find things to be thankful for in this bitter political climate in order for our prayers to be effective.
Then when Paul exhorted us to intercede (Greek ‘enteuxis’) for those in authority, it conveys much the same idea because this word includes the idea of coming alongside a person.
The apostle Paul used the same word for intercede when speaking about how the Holy Spirit prays for us:
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (Romans 8:26)
When interceding for politicians we need to come alongside them as a friend, not as an enemy. We need to pray as someone who genuinely wants to help. We need to understand their weaknesses and pray that God will strengthen them in these areas.