Evangelical Essentials

Are you praying for President Obama (while secretly hoping he will fail)?

The majority of evangelical Americans did not vote for Barack Obama to be president. He knows that. But all Christians know they should pray for him (see 1 Tim. 2:1-2). Paul’s admonition came when Caesar was emperor. We aren’t required to agree with our leaders; but we must pray for them. The question is, when we pray for President Obama, do we merely say, “Lord, I commit him to you”—avoiding any prayer for blessing? Or do we perfunctorily pray that God will bless him but hope God won’t?

When Jesus said love and pray for your enemies, He didn’t mean that we merely say, “Lord, I commit them to You.” He told us to go beyond just praying for them; we are to love them, sincerely asking God to bless them (see Matt. 5:44). Do we hope Obama will fail? Do our political and theological views exempt us from blessing him? Pharisees in Jesus’ day loved their theology more than people. They literally preferred a person to stay blind, crippled or maimed than be healed by Jesus. Are we political Pharisees? You may not agree with the president on issues such as sanctity of life, sexuality, health care and economics, but you can love him.

If you don’t, ask God to help you love him until you truly do. Christians once feared Saul of Tarsus; some today fear Obama. Yet someone prayed for Saul, and look what God did!

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I had a special relationship with the late Yasser Arafat. I was always welcome at his headquarters in Ramallah after we met together. Why? Arafat knew I loved him. I didn’t merely say to him, “Jesus loves you”; I said, “Jesus loves you, and I love you.” Tears filled his eyes. He couldn’t imagine an American evangelical talking to him like that. But he could feel it as well.

I lunched with him, anointed him with oil, showed him Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (Arafat wept through it) and stressed that Jesus died for him (contrary to Islamic teaching). And I always prayed with him during our five visits. Some friends said to me, “R.T., you will never reach a Jew now. You have sided with their enemy.” Wrong—though it appeared that way.

On the last day I saw Arafat, I ate breakfast with Rabbi David Rosen, Israel’s most distinguished orthodox rabbi. We agreed that same day to do our book, The Christian and the Pharisee, in which I put my views that Jesus is Israel’s true Messiah. David wrote his views on that as well. Some Jews are reading the book. The irony is, I have reached more Jews since meeting Arafat than ever before!

If we keep our eyes on Jesus and do what Jesus would do instead of looking over our shoulders, God will open doors no man can shut. If evangelicals sincerely prayed for President Obama—and honestly loved him—they would get a whole lot further with him than by wanting him to fail.

We are in a major national crisis. Our nation desperately and urgently needs prudent leadership. If Christians have the right point of view and want to be heard, how far do you suppose they will get with President Obama if he thinks they hope for his failure?

I sincerely pray he will succeed. When you start praying for a person sincerely it is amazing how your feelings toward him or her change. I loved Arafat. I now love Barack Obama. I wish 10 million Americans would pray daily for him—with all their hearts. Who knows what God might do? Remember Saul of Tarsus.

Jesus loves Barack Obama. Do you?

R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, including God Gives Second Chances. Visit his Web site at rtkendallministries.com.

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