Mark Twain was rumoured to have said “Everyone is talking about the weather but no one is doing anything about it.” What could be said about the weather is as aptly said about public life and public servants (read politicians and symbols of authority like the Prime Minister or the Governor General). The respect and support for public officials is not at an all-time high these days. Christians are part of that condemnation of those in power. It is important to keep a wise if not at times cautious awareness in an attempt to keep faith and politics / state separate. It is however utterly unacceptable to fail to pray for those in authority.
We published in February the following passage:
I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all Godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
I wonder how many of us have practised that admonition in our prayers either personally or as a worshipping country.
Several papers in Canada published an Ipsos Reid Poll on the religious affiliation of politicians (paid for by CanWest News Service). Here is a partial quote from the study published in the Vancouver Province on Easter Saturday April 15, 2006.
Canadians are increasingly uneasy about mixing religion and politics, suggest a new poll.
And they’d be more likely to vote for a party led by an atheist or a Muslim than an evangelical Christian.
The survey was conducted for CanWest News Service late last week, less than three months after Canadians voted for a government led by Stephen Harper, an evangelical Christian.
“There’s an increasing discomfort with a mixture of religion and politics, which is occurring at the same time as religion and politics are becoming increasingly intertwined,” said Andrew Grenville, of polling firm Ipsos Reid.
Only 63 per cent of Canadians said they would vote for a party leader and potential prime minister who is an evangelical Christian, even if they liked the party and its views. That number dropped from 80 per cent a decade ago.
Canadians appear to be slightly more accepting of a potential prime minister who is a Muslim or atheist.
Sixty-eight per cent said they would vote for a candidate in either of those categories, a drop from 74 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively, in 1996.
The poll also indicates support has slipped for traditional Christian values playing a major role in politics.
So what’s the point? There are three parts. It is not acceptable to neglect to pray for those who lead us. Secondly, there is a split of opinion in Canadian society that on the one hand people are afraid that politicians who are religious will impose their beliefs and on the other hand there is a desire for values in society in general. Thirdly, there is no point simply complaining about leaders by vaguely intending to pray for them; we need a plan. What follows is a simple monthly rotation for praying for our leaders. It is best done in public on Sundays but it can also simply be in the bulletin. If some feel an aversion to praying for those they have difficulties with just remember that early Christians prayed for some of the cruellest and brutal leaders the world has known; Diocletian, Nero and even the brilliant Marcus Aurelius who knew the threat of Christianity. In other words, whatever uneasiness I may have, I am still stuck with the instruction to pray. Pray for a change of heart, pray for strong homes, for safety, for wisdom and justice; you get the drift.
Many churches in Canada (especially those fine folk who are still under the delusion they are the “established or state” church) have regular patterns of prayer for those in leadership. We can learn from that part of their example and one day we’ll talk about praying for other Christians… one day soon.
First Sunday of the month
- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
- Her Excellency Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean
- Lieutenant Governors
- BC – Hon. Iona Campagnolo
- Alberta – Hon. Norman Kwong
- Saskatchewan – Hon. Dr. Lynda M. Haverstock
- Manitoba – Hon. John Harvard
- Yukon Territory – Hon. Geraldine Van Bibber
- NWT – Hon. Glenna Hansen
- Nunavut – Hon. Ann Meekitjuk Hanson
Second Sunday of the Month
- Prime Minster the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
- Local MP’s: ____________________________________________________
- Political Parties and leaders
- Conservative Party of Canada – Stephen Harper (minority government)
- Liberal Party of Canada – Bill Graham, acting leader (official opposition)
- Bloc Québécois – Gilles Duceppe
- New Democratic Party – Jack Layton
- Green Party of Canada – Jim Harris (listed because while they don’t have any seats in the house, they secured enough votes to qualify for federal funding from Elections Canada)
Third Sunday of the Month
- Provincial / Territorial Premiers
- BC – Gordon Campbell
- Alberta – Ralph Klein
- Saskatchewan – Lorne Calvert
- Manitoba – Gary Doer
- Yukon – Dennis Fentie
- NWT – Joe Handley
- Nunavut – Paul Okalik
- Local MLA’s
Fourth Sunday of the Month
- Local Mayor : _________________________________
- County Supervisor
Fifth Sunday of the Month
- Candidates for elections
- Party Executives
- Senior Civil Servants
- Policy Folk
- Front Line Service workers ( a whole other prayer cycle)