November 3, 2020

James 5:13-16 

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

 

If you’re like me, there’s a broad range of emotions sweeping through your mind and heart this election day. I feel hopeful, afraid, angry, resigned, and full of faith in strange, conflicting combinations. Hopeful and angry. Afraid and full of faith. Resigned and stirred to action. I’m a literal whirlwind of emotion as I check my newsfeed, drive by the millions of yard signs on the road, and stand in line to vote. In the midst of uncertainty, these verses in James bring me enormous comfort, as I hope they do for you. 

Are you in trouble? Happy? Sick? Sinful? Your next step is clear. You should pray. In all honesty, prayer is not necessarily my “go to” response. If I’m in trouble, I make a plan. If I’m happy, I post about it on social media. Sick? I make a doctor’s appointment. Struggling with sin? I double down on self loathing and legalism. Yet James’s instruction for all of these situations is exactly the same. We should go to prayer. 

I do not know what you are feeling right now, but I do know that the best thing you can do right now is stop for the next 60 seconds to pray with me, and hundreds of others, right now. The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. More powerful than a vote, more effective than debate or protest. It reveals to us the need for transformation both in our hearts, and in the hearts of others. I hope the following prayer captures what you are feeling, and you can pray it with sincerity.

 

Good and gracious God, I bring all of my thoughts and feelings to you, and submit them to your will. Where I have become misaligned, realign my mind and heart to yours. Where we walk in step, give me strength to carry on. Draw close to every elected official and candidate whether they are plotting, planning, serving, or giving. Change hearts, restore relationships, and bring your kingdom. Hear my prayers for the fruits of your spirit to be manifest in this election.

Hateful words have taken the place of measured response. Opponents are seen as enemies, enemies are seen as less than human. I too have thought and spoken hatefully. I have failed to speak up in defense of others.

May love increase in me and in those around me

Like me, elected officials and candidates walk in brokenness. My soul is overcome with sorrow. Help me to remember that you see more than I, and help me to see them as your dearly loved children.

May joy increase in me and in those around me

Images of protest and violence fill my screens and my thoughts. Yet I know you are in control. Help me to rest in that knowledge. As political races are won and lost, bring smooth transitions and quiet my churning mind.

May peace increase in me and in those around me

I am tired of waiting for justice. I’m tired of waiting for results. I’m frustrated with how slowly the wheels of politics turn. Remind me that 1000 years are only a day to you and that you promise to bring justice to the oppressed.

May patience increase in me and in those around me

This political season has been filled with hurtful words and attack ads. Accusations fly thick and fast. 

May kindness increase in me and in those around me

Selfishness occurs at all levels of our government. Petty debates distract from real issues. Power hungry men and women wield their office for personal gain. Yet I am only a sojourner, a traveler through this life. Keep my heart and mind pure and selfless.

May goodness increase in me and in those around me

In the midst of uncertainty, give me hope. In the midst of distractions, help me to stay the course. Guide our elected officials to serve consistently and honestly.

 May faithfulness increase in me and in those around me

As this election unfolds, people are becoming angry. Help me to remember that a soft answer turns away wrath.

May gentleness increase in me and in those around me

Opportunities for corruption and self indulgence abound. Grant strength to our elected officials to choose selflessness and righteousness, even when the choice is hard.

 May self-control increase in me and in those around me

Sweep through our nation with your Holy Spirit. Let love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control follow in his wake. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Who was and is and is to come. Amen.

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