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Have you prayed for the President today?

TUCSON, Ariz. -- We are about to exercise our cherished freedom to vote in a national presidential election. Who will you vote for? Who will serve the next four years as our President?

These troubled times will test the leadership of the person we elect to the highest office of the land. When some think of the role of President they focus upon the privilege, power and prestige. The flip side of the coin reveals that it is the most difficult responsibility in the world. Presidents are often lonely people isolated from family and crushed by the sheer weight of burden for the welfare of the world.

When President Bill Clinton served as our President, I must confess that I was very critical of his leadership.

One day a colleague in the ministry looked me in the eyes and asked, "Have you prayed for the President today?"

My response was, "No, I haven't. I've criticized him, but I have not prayed for him."

My friend rightly confronted me with "But don't you realize that our role is to pray for our President, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with his politics?"

He reminded me of 1 Timothy 2:1-2 which reads, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness..."

This encounter was the bucket of cold water tossed in my face which woke me up to the reality of my responsibility. I repented of my bad attitude and began regularly praying for our President. My attitude changed. Contrary to popular opinion, you can teach old dogs new tricks!

We tend to believe in the old adage, unless you want a congenial party to turn into a contentious brawl stay away from talking about religion and politics. I disagree. I love talking about religion and politics. I want my religion to inform my politics. I have many friends with whom I disagree on political issues; however, we love one another and agree to disagree. The one thing I do encourage everyone to buy into is to pray for the President.

Voting is a sacred privilege and responsibility. Men and women of faith must take seriously this act of obedience to God. The common grace of democracy is a gift from God. With an attitude of gratitude we get to the polls and exercise our cherished freedom to vote according to our conscience. The transition of power will be orderly and honoring to God. Across the world, many nations experience bloody revolution and violent reprisals against political opponents. We vote. Then we get busy supporting the person elected.

Whoever is elected Nov. 4, would you join me in praying for him? Pray for protection. Pray for wisdom. Pray for integrity. Pray that our President will be a purveyor of hope to the American people.

In the darkest days of Israel's history, the prophet Jeremiah served as God's mouthpiece when he said, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

Remember, the kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One, but the President of the United States can lead us into a God-honoring future with the help of your prayers.