“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I was asked to give the Invocation prayer today for the Virginia Senate, at the opening of the General Assembly’s special session on gun control. I was told that my prayer could be no longer than one minute, and that it should be “non-political.” The one minute rule was tough, but I think I met it. Being non-political is another matter.
If one is praying for politicians, and for the political decisions that they are about to make, what purpose could it possibly serve to avoid politics? It is nothing other than politics that needs to be addressed.
And the real rub for me was this: how could I still be Biblical and not be political? Were not the prophets political in the way they called Israel’s kings back to God’s ways? Was not Jesus political in the way he called Jerusalem’s leaders back to God’s ways?
As I have thought about politics and prayer, this phrase has been on my mind recently. It is from The Blantyre Covenant, an ecumenical document signed by representatives from many African churches in 1992. It calls upon all churches to reject the “worldview which divides the religious from the secular” and which excludes “our social, political, and economic concerns from the church’s agenda.”
Something else that inspired my prayer was my experience attending the Gun Control Rally at 31st Street Baptist Church on Sunday evening. It was not a “rally” by any definition. It was, rather, a spirit-filled worship service—a revival. Politicians spoke. Clergy offered prayers. Two choirs transported us beyond earth. And most of the attendees were people whose lives and neighborhoods are most affected by gun violence. There was politics, and there was prayer—and both were needed.
Here’s the prayer I ended up offering today. I’ll leave it to you to ponder whether it is political or not.
Almighty God, creator of all, sustainer of our lives, source of all wisdom, and judge of our souls: We pray that your spirit of guidance will direct the minds, the hearts, the words, and the actions of these members of the Virginia Senate gathered to do urgent work for our Commonwealth. May they remember and act to honor the lost lives, the broken families, and the shattered communities that have suffered from gun violence. Help them to set aside differences of party and of personality, that together they may find a way forward that serves the best interests of all the people of Virginia, and especially of the most vulnerable among us: women and children, the young and the poor. May their actions today move us closer to a world where peace and justice, mercy and faith may prevail. Amen.
And I’ll leave it to you to pray about whether your Christian faith requires you to be political or not.
The Rev. Bill Queen