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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Praying for the New President

Unlike many other conservative Christians, I have never doubted the Christian faith of our new president, Barack Obama. I heard him share his testimony on NPR's "All Things Considered" one evening and I thought to myself, "I wish I knew more Christians who were as sincere and articulate about their faith as Barack Obama is."

As a conservative pastor, I have been inundated (as many people have) with concerns about the new president's connections to Islam, his former pastor Jeremiah Wright, and the liberal leanings of his denomination, the United Church of Christ. E-mails, web sites, mass mailings and phone trees have all done their best to impugn the faith of our new Commander in Chief.

But you would have had to have heard him on that radio program to understand where I'm coming from. Unlike many of Obama's speeches, that are long on rhetoric and short on content, the radio testimony he shared was deeply sincere. He hadn't been coached about his relationship with Jesus Christ. He hadn't run it through a focus group. He wasn't watching his words to avoid misstating something. It was simply, clearly, sincere.

That is why I choose to pray for him. I know that Mr. Obama and I don't agree on many things, especially abortion. But we also agree on a lot, especially the fact that he, as president, is still a subject of the God of Heaven.

I will pray for him as he makes decisions - the right decisions - about abortion. I will ask God to move his heart to keep tight restrictions on funding for programs that endanger human life from the moment of conception.

I will pray for his family. As President Bush stated (in a rare moment of eloquence), when the stress of being president gets to Mr. Obama, "he is only a 45 second commute from a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters who love him dearly." They will need our prayers as they see their husband and father walk into the lions' den that is Washington D.C. They will need our prayers for protection: who of us would put our young children in harm's way the way the president's daughters will be?

Mostly, I will pray that being president will be an experience of humble service to God. It seems ironic to me that presidents most cherished by we conservatives (Reagan and the Bushes) are not known for their regular Church attendance, yet presidents reviled by many conservatives (Carter, Clinton and now Obama) are unflinchingly regular in their Church attendance. My hope is that the faith about which I heard Obama speak on the radio will be deepened, strengthened, and revived through his term as president.

Make no mistake about it, I have very high anxiety about our new preisdent. Unlike nearly everyone I talk to, I am not ecstatic about this 'historic occasion'. I am worried about the strength of our relationship with Israel. I am concerned that taxes will increase. I felt that President Bush's faith-based initiatives were good and should be expanded and I'm afraid Obama will end them. I am opposed to reinstitution of the military draft and gays in the military.

But I thank God for the United States and for the smooth transition of power. I believe that God's hand was in Barack Obama's election and that he is the right man for the hour, whether or not I agree with him (or he with me). If we believe the Bible, we will follow the direction of the Apostle St. Peter to "honor all men; love the brotherhood; fear God; honor the king" (I Peter 2:17).

So join me in praying for Obama and his family, won't you? And may these next four years will be years of God's blessing on our nation.

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