1 Samuel 12:23
"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way."
1 Timothy 2:1-6
"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, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,"
Over the past few years I have been increasingly convinced that I do not devote as much time as I ought to in praying for our leaders. The Bible tells us we are to do that. And it says that it is to our benefit that we do it faithfully. With all the news coverage of yesterday's historic inauguration, I've been thinking more about that. Actually, speaking honestly here, I have become increasingly convinced that I do not pray consistently, persistently, as often or as well as I should, even for my own husband and children and friends and leaders much closer to home, much less the president and leaders of our country. Too often I am content with spot prayers and self-centered prayers, but far, far too seldom do I get alone and quiet and really labor in prayer, so to speak. Because it is a labor to pray well. It takes work to get alone and pray thoughtfully and to really think about and reverence the One to whom I pray.
To be honest, as my friend Heather has observed and I have also found true in my own life, sometimes the best prayer times I have are in the shower because it is the only time I am alone. If anyone in my house wonders why I take such long showers, well, that's one reason. And too many days I bulldoze ahead into the day before properly fixing my thoughts on the things above and taking even a moment to pause and remember Whose I am and for Whom I want to live this day, or I fritter away time with all my Martha tasks, things that need doing to be sure, but I neglect the best thing, the most needful thing, the thing I am most desperately in need of doing - to take the time to know Christ, to take time to remind myself again that I am in His presence and that all the Martha busyness is better done Coram Deo - before the face of God in an attitude of worship. This is to my shame.
As people who have saving faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are the uniquely gifted people who alone can effectively pray for our leaders and our country, because we are the only people who have a relationship with the High Priest and King, Jesus Christ. Other people may offer up ceremonial or rote or vain prayers, but only those prayed in faith according to His will by His people are something more than empty words.
Jesus is the intecessor sitting at the right hand of God, it is only through Jesus that we can approach the throne of God. We have His ear. Have you ever stopped to ponder the wonder of that? Think about that for a minute. We have the very ear of Jesus Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us, and the prayers of the saints are as incense before the throne of God. Think for a minute about the awesome price that was paid to grant us that kind of access. Nothing less than the life and blood of God's one and only Son. He paid our sin debt on the cross and rose again on the third day so that we could have God's grace and mercy poured over us who trust in His name and are washed in His blood. Only by that grace can we stand, clothed in the righteousness of Christ and bring our requests to God.
What an awesome privilege to carry everything, everything! to Him in prayer. How sad, how shameful, to neglect such a privilege. May I neglect other, less needful things and learn to labor in prayer. Praying without ceasing - having an attitude of prayer, those spot prayers are so special, and stopping to say a prayer for a friend when they cross your mind is sweet, practicing being in His presence all day long, but there is also a priceless intimacy when we shut ourselves up into our prayer closet for a time and pray diligently and thoughtfully, too.
As I was thinking about prayer yesterday, I read this at Dr. Al Mohler's blog and thought that it is an excellent example of how to pray for a president. He demonstrates how to pray for a man who, though he may not have been my choice for president, and he wasn't, but he is the man that God has allowed to be elected, and we must be faithful to pray for him and for the people who make the decisions in our government. May I be faithful - to pray for our government leaders, yes, but also for my own family and friends and local church leaders. And may I be faithful to not only pray for those who are actually in my sphere of influence, but to teach them well, also. May 2009 be the year when I commit to pray more fervently and diligently than ever before, growing in my love for Christ. And may 2009 be a year when I spend time in His word, not just reading it to get through a reading plan, but thinking about what I read and praying for wisdom and understanding. Because, ultimately, my goal, my hope, for 2009 is to know Christ more and to love Him more.
"One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple."