Scripture: I Timothy 2:1-7 (CEV)
First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God.
Sometimes it's overwhelming how many people we find we ought to pray for. Every Sunday we lift prayers in worship and then can't quite remember all those names by the time we get home. We meet someone in the grocery store and remember that he had surgery recently, and we forgot to keep him in our prayers. And then there are all the refugees, the flood and fire victims, the homeless, the hungry, those in the service, all the "lives that matter" (whether black or blue), and all the politicians and candidates. That's a lot of praying we need to be doing!
We need to pray. But it's not because of obligation or guilt. We need to pray so that we remember we are not in charge of saving the world, or even our little corner of it. God knows what each of God's beloved children needs— no reminders from us are needed. We need to pray so that we remember we are all connected. We need to pray so that we ourselves might be moved.
You're angry with someone? Pray for him. You know someone is in pain? Pray for her. You feel estranged from an old friend? Pray for both of you. Those difficult people at work? Lift a prayer of thanks for their particular gifts. Upset with all the turmoil in the news each night? God knows how desperately our country and our world need prayer.
Perhaps when we pray for a person, a situation, a country, we feel more connected. We are more invested in the healing process. Prayer might even move us to be the first to reach out. Years ago there was a person at church council meetings with whom I always seemed to be in conflict. I wound myself in knots with the tension. But then I started praying for her— not that she would be "reformed," but that we might find some common ground. One night I caught her after the meeting and suggested I'd like the chance to just get together some time. She was shocked, and I answered the obvious "Why" question on her face: "I'd just like to get to know you better." We never did have that get together; but tensions abated, and we learned to get along.
Now, as November and elections draw near, we need more prayer than ever. We cannot pray for change in others, but we can pray for understanding. We can pray that we might agree on common goals. We can pray for those "quiet and peaceful lives" we all long for.
Holy God, hear our prayers. We need you to guide us, to strengthen us, to bring us together in your love. Amen