It is that time once again in the history of the United States of America when we engage as a nation in the peaceful transition of power. One president is coming to the end of his term. Another has been elected. In the pageantry of tradition, one will step aside, and the other will take an oath and assume the responsibilities of the office to which he has been elected. It is one of the hallmarks of the way of self-governance that the people of this country have claimed as our own.
As we all know, however, this transition is marked with division and disagreements. The divides that we saw during the season of the political campaigns have not abated. Passionate voices are heard on both sides of the aisle and across the political and ideological spectrum. Regardless of one’s political persuasions, it seems that anxiety is high these days and uncertainty permeates the air.
As people of the Christian faith, we believe that it is good and right to pray for the world, our country and for its leaders. We believe it is good and right to pray for God to lead and to guide. We believe that we are called to a life of prayer, and this prayer includes those who govern.
For what, then, shall we pray?
Often times I find it helpful to draw on the words that others have penned to nourish and sustain my own prayer life. As much as I believe in finding one’s own voice in praying to God, I find it also helpful to use the words that others have been led to prayer in various times and places. I find this especially helpful when I am uncertain how to pray in specific times and circumstances.
As I have been engaged in conversations with various people over the last number of weeks, an uncertainty about how and what to pray in these times has been a common theme. Because of that, I thought it might be helpful to compile for you some petitions to aid in your own prayer lives at this time of national transition.
It is my hope and prayer that these petitions assist you as you call upon the throne of grace now and in the times ahead.
Almighty God, we lift before you all who govern this nation. May those who hold power understand that it is a trust from you to be used, not for personal glory or profit, but for the service of the people. Drive from us cynicism, selfishness, and corruption; grant in your mercy just and honest government; and give us grace to live together in unity and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen – Evangelical Lutheran Worship
Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times, do not let our trust in You fail; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. – Lutheran Service Book
O God, who guides the strong and lifts up the weak, be with those who lead the nations of the world. Give them ears to hear the voices of the people they are called to serve. Give them courage to speak and act on behalf of the powerless. Give them wisdom to quell division. Give them eyes to see the faces of the children and others affected by the laws they enact. Give them a sense of your compassion, your justice, and your abiding peace. Amen. – OREMUS III+ A Book of Worship for Corporate and Private Prayer
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer
Today I pray for our nation. I ask that you would give our President wisdom beyond his own understanding and the courage to choose the right path no matter how narrow the gate. I pray for all in authority over us that you would give them the grace and strength to stand against the temptation to use power as a weapon but rather to carry it reverently as one would a child. I pray for the spiritual leaders of our country that they would hear your voice and know your heart. I pray that they would lead from their knees and by that simple grace bring each one of us to our knees before your throne. Have mercy on our nation, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen – Beliefnet.com
If you are looking for prayers outside of the Christian tradition, I commend to you a small book, The Interfaith Prayer Book, compiled by Ted Brownstein. It is available on Amazon.
God Bless Your Praying –
Jan. 18, 2017
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.