The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not rescued by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it rescue anyone by its great strength (Psalm 33:16).
How often do we do things in our own strength? If we survey our lives and some of the difficulties, are we more prone to rest on the arm of the flesh, or is our dependence firmly on God? If I had to guess, I would say if we are honest we are more bent on trying to figure things out ourselves with the tools we have at our disposal. How often is our first thought to take whatever it is to God in prayer?
Prayer is a tool given to every believer by God so that we can wage the good fight.
However, some in the church forget that powerful tool and just want to fight politics with politics. As I think about where we are now as a nation and the politics of the day, the question I pose is how much prayer has gone into political engagement? It appears that there are many believers who are more focused on just picking the “right” candidate? The one who checks all the right political boxes. Having voter guides and ways to know candidates and what they stand for is a blessing from God and makes things easier, but this is not a reason to get lax on seeking God for His wisdom and direction.
While our civic engagement is important and we need to understand how things work in that arena, our main job as Christians is to pray. Some have spent far too much time, money, and energy on doing the things that seem politically expedient without having that same fervor for the hearts and souls of mankind.
Prayer comes first. Our ability to engage civically and for the public to know how to vote and engage “rightly” hinges on our prayers for people and the aggressive proclamation of the Gospel. We can get the “right” candidates in office, we can encourage people to vote the “right” way, we can get the “right” laws passed but the fact is that all of this could happen, and the hearts of men may not be changed. People can vote “rightly” and live wrongly because their vote is based upon temporary comforts and not on eternal benefits.
Daniel is an example of a Yahweh worshipper who served as a politician in captivity in Babylon to the glory of God but was yet a man with the right and proper focus on prayer.
Daniel had a high political position as 1 of 3 commissioners over the satraps (who were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors).
These satraps (governors) were to answer to Daniel (a commissioner) who functioned like a president.
Daniel had favor from God and began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit.
The unprincipled politicians got mad and devised a plan.
They tried to find corruption in Daniel but could not find anything and concluded that there would be no way to attack Daniel unless it was something regarding his fidelity to God.
What a testimony!
The unprincipled politicians schemed and came up with a plan. They went to King Darius and played on his ego saying that all the other high-ranking officials (equivalent to governors, senators, and representatives) thought he should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who made a petition to any god or man besides him for 30 days should be thrown into the lion’s den. The king in his folly signed the document.
Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously (Daniel 6:10).
When Daniel found himself in this tight situation, he didn’t try to politic his way out of it, he did what he was already in the practice of doing. He wasn’t going to now close his windows so that they couldn’t see him or hide in his closet but he went to his roof chamber as always, windows opened towards Jerusalem, and continued praying three times a day before God as he had been doing before.
Many unprincipled politicians wet their fingers and put them in the air to try to see which way the wind is blowing. They try to finagle and compromise when sticky situations come about and are moved to the right or to the left to suit the situation. But Psalm 125:1 says:
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surrounds Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forever.
We know what happened next. They quickly reported Daniel to the king who had to keep the decree that he signed. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Just as Daniel was faithful to God, God was faithful to shut the lions’ mouths.
With all that’s at hand in our sinful culture, let’s be encouraged to continue in what we know to do. Let our devotion to God be unmoved in this political climate. Let us remain faithful to God and be people of prayer.
The prayer of the believer is never to be an afterthought. Daniel was praying before this edict was handed down from the king and Daniel didn’t pause on his time of prayer once this edict was handed down. No matter what happens in the political climate we are called to pray without ceasing!
Prayer always precedes engagement.
The Apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy:
First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:1-6).
Let’s do the first and often hard work of actively praying and watch the Lord move on behalf of the prayers of His people.