We have all criticized our President, Congressmen, Chief Justices, Governors, and Mayors.
As citizens, we certainly have a moral obligation to vote. But as Christians, we have an obligation to pray for our leaders. This need for prayer support found an indirect expression through one of America’s foremost Presidents—Abraham Lincoln.
Comments from Lincoln
It seems that a group of concerned citizens gained an audience with the President. After they had the President’s attention, they sharply criticized his policies and actions. Their words were painful and caustic. Eventually, the President cut them off and pleaded for their help in the form of an anecdote.
“Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and this you had placed in the hands of a man to carry across the Niagara River on a rope. Would you shake the cable and keep shouting at him: ‘Stand up a little straighter, stoop a little more, go a little faster, go a little slower, lean a little more to the south’? No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue and keep your hands off until he got safely over.
“The government is carrying an enormous weight. Untold treasure is in our hands. Don’t badger us. Keep silent and we will get you across.”
On another such occasion, Abraham Lincoln dealt with criticism using this analogy.
“A traveler on the frontier became lost one night in one of the hostile regions. To make things worse, a terrible thunderstorm broke upon him. He prodded his horse onward until, exhausted, the horse collapsed beneath him. Now he was lost, on foot, soaked to the bone and scared. The brilliant flashes of lightning were the only light by which he could see his way, but the peals of thunder were frightful. One bolt, which seemed to crash beneath him, brought his to his knees. Now, he was certainly no praying man, but he made this short and desperate prayer to Heaven: ‘O Lord, please, give us a little more light and a little less noise!’”i
Praying for the Government
“Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace,” (Jeremiah 29:7, NKJV). And again, “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,” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, NKJV).
Dear Father in heaven, please bless our President, his cabinet, the Congress, the Senate, the Chief Justices and all those who govern our land and determine its destiny. Please fill them with wisdom and courage. Grant that they may pursue that which is good and reject that which is evil. Cause them, O God, to lead our nation into the paths of peace and righteousness, that America may honor Your holy Name. Amen.
i Quotes from Donald T. Phillips, Lincoln Stories for Leaders