The EFCA over the past couple of days published a couple of viewpoints on the 2020 Presidential Election. One is from Greg Strand and the other is from Alejandro Mendes. This is a perspective on how some evangelicals are approaching the presidential race coming to a close and how Christians should respond.
“Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy.”
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Romans 13:1 NIV
Greg Strand of the EFCA
The 2020 Presidential Election is today. Shortly polls will begin to close on the East Coast and the then the country watches and waits. I remember when I was a kid laying on the floor watching the results of the 1988 Presidential Election with Mom and Dad sitting on the couch. This election is tense and remains one of the tensest I have seen. When I reflect back on this year I think it resembles the late 1960’s in terms of upheaval, unrest and tension. The only thing that has not happened (thankfully) is that no assassination or assassination attempt has taken place. And for that I am grateful. Its with this in mind that I saw a couple of approaches to the election that come from the EFCA. This evening I thought they should be shared. The first one is a prayer from Greg Strand. Greg Strand is the EFCA Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. The second post is by Alejandro Mendes who leads the EFCA All People’s Ministry.
Greg Strand’s Election Day Prayer
Greg Strand’s post is called, “Our Father in Heaven.” I am going to post the beginning of it and then you can read the remainder at the EFCA blog.
This has been an interesting year, to say the least. At the beginning of 2020, our reminder, call and prayer was to pray that in this year God would give us 2020 vision to see Him in His Word, His work and ways in our lives and the world with clarity. How many would have thought or could have predicted the events that have transpired since that prayer last January – COVID-19, more deaths and murders, racial unrest, injustices, devastating weather, a presidential election cycle and much more? And how many have thought when comparing what we prayed and what has unfolded whether or not God heard our prayer at all? Thankfully, in God’s kind providence, we can trust an always-faithful, never-changing God, who as our Father hears our prayers and grants what a loving father would – what we need and not what we want.
Tomorrow is the presidential election. Many have already voted. Many more will vote tomorrow. This election season has been marked by divides and polarization in ways I have not experienced previously (that is not to say other presidential elections have not been contentious). Much of it has been fueled through social media. And we can with certainty predict that on Wednesday morning, or whenever the president-elect is determined through the votes cast and announced, the divide will not only remain, it will likely be magnified. One other thing is also likely. Many will be completely shocked by the results, whoever the president-elect is. Why? Because of confirmation bias and echo chambers, fostered through the algorithms of social media, it is difficult to believe anyone would have political views other than I do, or than my group does. And not only has that notion become unthinkable, for those who actually do think differently, not only do they have a contrary view, they are considered ignoramuses for doing so.
Brothers and sisters, the church of Jesus Christ ought to be different. All of us have prayed, and all of us need to continue to pray. Even after the election, prayer is essential for believers. One has rightly said, and many others repeated, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” As the people of God in the EFCA, on this day, the day before the election, we are committing to pray. To guide our praying, we will use the Lord’s model prayer (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4), which was the prayer Jesus’ taught his disciples to pray, and a prayer that has been prayed by the people of God throughout the history of the church. We join this cloud of witnesses, reminding us that we, at this moment in time, join with others through time.
Before we pray, there are two important introductory truths to remember in and from this prayer. First, it is structured with a focus on God in the first three petitions, the vertical relationship (Matt 6:9-10) and then on others in the last three petitions, the horizontal relationship (Matt 6:11-13). Looking back in the Bible, this is similar to what we read in the Ten Commandments (Exod 20:1-17; cf. Deut 5:6-21), which focuses on our relationship with God (commandments 1-4, vv. 1-11) and then on our relationship with others (commandments 5-10, vv. 12-17). Looking ahead in Matthew’s Gospel, this is also reflected in Jesus’ response to the question about which is the great/greatest commandment in the Law: love God and love your neighbor (Matt 22:37-39). This is a right order of prayer – we begin with God, which gives us a God-centered, Christ-focused, gospel-shaped mind and heart, and from that posture we bring our intercessory prayers and requests to Him.
You can read the remainder here.
Alejandro Mendes’ “Watch, Pray and Obey”
Again with this post I am going to have the begining and then you can go to the main EFCA blog to read more.
During an election cycle, I am often asked, “How are you praying?” My first—and best—answer is for God’s will to be done! However, when that answer seems less than satisfactory, I turn to 1 Timothy 2:1-2:
“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.”
God’s will is going to be done, and it will be done His way. God’s people have the privilege of being used to bring about His will if they pray and obey the teachings of Jesus, being discerning in all things through the Spirit. We cannot pray and obey effectively without being centered in Christ and aligning with where He is at work. Here are some thoughts to consider as we pray and obey in this election season.
Really, truly pray for our civil leaders. How many of us have prayed for the civil leaders running in this election? It is easy to pray for the politicians and leaders with whom we agree politically. It is not as easy to pray for people with whom we do not align.
And praying for their damnation (in Greek, ὄλεθρος) does not count.
Jesus talks about this specifically in Luke 6:32-35:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
This applies to our prayer, too.
When Paul asks for prayer in the New Testament, he is speaking to people who would have known suffering under Nero, the Roman Emperor, one of the most vicious and cruel leaders of Rome. Nero ordered the destruction of Jerusalem and then blamed the Jews. And yet, the early Christians were instructed to pray for these leaders. How much more should we be encouraged to pray for ours?
What if we prayed as much as we read about politics? Christian, there are spiritual forces at work—so get in the game by praying.
Pray for the candidates, for congress and for media outlets. Pray for strength and endurance to be honest and make good decisions. Pray for good leadership, whether you agree with the policies or not. Pray for honesty in the presentation of facts for the public to consume.
Pray for discernment as you engage with politics. Pray that you would not conflate your religion with the candidates and policies for which you vote.
You can read more here.