President-elect Barack Obama has called this time in our history: "The greatest economic challenge in our lifetime." I think he is profoundly right. We may not have a crash like 1929 or a "Great Depression" but there is now little doubt that this time may become like none we have known since that time. I could be wrong but it appears that we are in for a rough ride in 2009 and beyond.

Obama faces war, recession, and an ambitious list of campaign promises like tax cuts and expanded health care. He also faces a serious energy crisis. In the debates he spoke about tackling many problems all at once. It appears that he will be forced to do exactly this come January. Right now he is putting together his team. We should pray for this process since it is one of the most important that he will undertake. I cannot imagine how anyone can manage this task. It strikes me as so daunting that I do not wish it to anyone.

Barack Obama is clearly a very intelligent man. Indeed, he may be one of the brightest men to enter the White House in a very long time. Bill Clinton was an extremely bright man too but he was also a man without self-discipline and personal control. Obama seems to be quite unlike Clinton in almost every way. He possesses high marks for character and ability. What he will need is wisdom. We are told that he is presently reading and studying to prepare for the job. His aides describe him as a man who is keenly aware of his own strengths and weaknesses. That gives me great hope about him. He is also said to be eager to soak up expertise from others. He asks questions and listens well. He will need all of these traits to succeed. What he needs even more is our prayer.

The apostle Paul urged early Christians to offer "petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). I urge you to follow this counsel. Will you pray for Barack Obama? How will you give thanks to God for him? Will you pray for wisdom and success for him or for failure and shame? Will you pray that all who love Christ support him so that we may all "live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" or will you express constant partisan anger and condemnations of the new president?

I oppose Obama's position on abortion but the angry response of Christians toward him on this point is not warranted. The very rulers that Paul wrote about were not only pro-choice but they were prepared to kill Christians and some acted accordingly. They were complete pagans. Barack Obama is a Christian, like him or not. Your disagreement with him does not warrant the rhetorical expressions of hatred and vilification that seems constant these days from the Christian right. Such speech is ungodly and cannot promote true holiness.

Thursday I was listening to a Christian news report on the Moody Radio Network as I was driving to a meeting. I heard the president of Concerned Women of America speak about the next president. I was so disturbed by her comments that I quickly changed the station and prayed for her and the millions like her who are determined to oppose Barack Obama before he is even allowed to live one day as our 44th president. One thing that plainly drives this type of response is the practical denial of divine sovereignty. Another is the anger felt by many about the abortion issue. We seem to think that this issue alone warrants our hostility toward Obama. Since 1973 I have yet to see how this type of angry confrontation regarding abortion has really accomplished anything truly good.

It is time for Christians to major on the kingdom of Christ, not on angry denunciations of our leaders. It is time that we gave people the opportunity to hear the "good news" from our lives and churches. Our moral outrage is wrongly expressed and the cause of Christ suffers accordingly. Missional Christians need to rethink all of this in the next four years. A major initiative is needed whereby we learn to focus upon Jesus, not upon those we dislike in leadership.

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  1. James K November 15, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Hi John
    Thank you for your prayerful blog on the spiritual condition of America. No doubt this is one of the greatest challenges since great depression. However, this crisis can be an opportunity for many God fearing Christians. Apostle Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair” (1 Cor 4:8). More than anything we have to deliver the message of hope. This is not time for anger or despair. We have to ask ourselves, WWJD (What would Jesus do?)in this situation.

  2. Susanne Barrett November 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Hi John —
    I wrote a post on basically the same issue on my own blog today. If you would like to take a glance, it’s at:
    The hatred I am hearing from the Christian Right disturbs me deeply. I did not vote for Obama, but I did vote for another African-American candidate in the primary: Alan Keyes. So my vote had nothing to do with race but with Obama’s policies.
    But as Christians, it is our responsibility, as is commanded in Scripture, to pray for our leaders. I highly recommend the Presidential Prayer Team ( as a wonderful, non-partisan way to prayer specifically for our leaders, especially for our president-elect.
    Your friend in Christ,
    Susanne 🙂

  3. Gene Redlin November 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    My concern about Barack Obama is not about his intelligence. He is
    clearly bright. Nor his unflappability which I admire. I was hopeful when he lined up his cabinet and advisers a week ago. Good men
    and women for the most part. Men and women of substance starting with
    Rham Emmanuel. I applauded him on my blog and in other places for these choices.
    My concern has been that Obama seems to show a lack of courage that he tries to overcome with charm.
    If I were a psychiatrist I might point to his cultural beginnings or his unrooted fatherless
    upbringing as a cause. But it’s more than that.
    A concern of mine during the election was that he has never really
    accomplished anything of consequence in his life. Never a real job. Never a real cause he propounded and succeeded at. He has been glib guy who looks good. He has little to point to that can build a foundation of accomplishment and success
    upon which he can base decisive action. In my opinion he is not proven and tested under difficult situations. Now this unproven untested man is our President.
    He became a screen on which Americans saw in hopes and dreams. Not of himself but of the projection on him.
    I do pray for him. I will pray for him. I pray that he soon develops a purpose, that he develops a firm resolve, that he quickly develops a
    spine of steel.
    From my observation he is too easily shaken and pushed around by public opinion, particularly from those of his party; By a desire to keep peace. The Bible calls it man Pleasing. It is a snare
    he manifests in his personality.
    Paul talked of it in Galatians 1:10
    Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying
    to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a
    servant of Christ.
    The Proverbs are full of admonitions to avoid this weakness:
    Proverbs 24:23 “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good
    to have respect of persons in judgment.”
    Proverbs 28:21 “To have respect of persons is not good: for for a
    piece of bread that man will transgress.”
    Proverbs 29:25-26 “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso puts his
    trust in the LORD shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favor; but
    every man’s judgment comes from the LORD.”
    Many rightly criticized Pres Bill Clinton for governing by poll results. I am concerned that Obama might be worse.
    I hoped he would surround himself with sound advisers
    and use them to help him develop a face set as flint. At first it seemed like he might do so.
    Then Larry Summers who it was assumed would be Sec of Treasury and a good one at that, has been thrown under the bus because of some badly understood comments he made a decade ago. Liberal feminists
    shouted louder than common sense and common sense lost.
    During the Campaign he demonstrated this unwillingness to stand firm against public opinion over and over again. If a person didn’t fit the profile that the polls said were wrong under the bus they went.
    If you want to pray for Obama as I do, pray that he develop courage,
    strength and firmness of resolve.
    He is sadly lacking in that area right now.
    This isn’t a positive characteristic in a leader of the free world.

  4. Jennifer November 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I agree… and I applaud your spirit of prayer. I hope many other Christians reading this will also pray continuously for Obama. God loves Obama as He loves us. He is Obama’s Father also and will hear our prayers for Him. I pray for Obama’s administration and for wisdom, strength, courage, and real noble and godly leadership.

  5. Richard Z. Ryzewski November 17, 2008 at 3:43 am

    I agree that regardless of who we voted, we absolutely need to pray for world leaders including our president. Our president is a person created by God whom he loves and gave his one and only son Jesus for. I believe Jesus would want us to pray for Pres. Elect Barack just like we would pray for anyone to love God. I believe it is against God’s word to hate a person, especially our president because he did not match our political beliefs or morals. We have to remember that we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against powers, principalities and rulers in high places. We are not fighting against Republicans or Democrats but against Satan who wants to divide all of us. We have to pray that our country can be reconciled to God through
    bible teachers and shepherds that God raises up.
    I pray wholeheartedly that President Bush can finish his presidency on a strong note. I pray that President O’Bama can repent daily so Jesus can dwell in him newly every day and have a deep personal relationship with him. I pray God will give him wisdom how to deal with the war, economy and all the campaign promises he made. Let God’s will be done.

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