I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. The First Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy, 2:1-3
Yet there is one experience which most sincere ex-Communists share, whether or not they go only part way to the end of the question it poses. The daughter of a former German diplomat in Moscow was trying to explain to me why her father, who, as an enlightened modern man, had been extremely pro-Communist, had become an implacable anti-Communist. It was hard for her because, as an enlightened modern girl, she shared the Communist vision without being a Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. "He was immensely pro-Soviet," she said, "and then-you will laugh at me-but you must not laugh at my father-and then-one night-in Moscow-he heard screams. That's all. Simply one night he heard screams." Whittaker Chambers, "Letter to my Children," from the forward to Witness
I have learned from a reliable source that James Dobson recently prayed for Barack Obama that he might have uneasy nights. When I passed this suggestion on to a friend who was urging us all to pray for Obama (following the scriptural command), he was inclined to think such a prayer mean-spirited, or at least to think that if he prayed it, it would be mean-spirited.
I cannot speak for my friend, and of course he must follow his conscience in this matter. But I do not believe that such a prayer is mean-spirited. In fact, I believe it is quite important.
I have no patience with a certain quietest species of Christian who will oppose a political candidate until he wins and then, when it is all over, will chide one for sharp criticism of the very same person. "After all," (in semi-reverent tones) "he is our President, and we must respect the office." (When Bill Clinton was President, I believed, and still believe, that the highest respect I could show to the office was to say that he was a disgrace to it.)
And so to the extent that the calls for us to pray for Barack Obama once he is President, regardless of our "political" differences with him, are in this same way meant as a tacit direction to mute our criticism, to the extent that they are meant to tell us that once he has taken office we may no longer call him a moral monster for his infanticidal views and his express pro-death intentions, I reject them.
Yet the scriptural injunction to pray for kings is unequivocal. So I think that Dobson's idea is a very good one. It is not to wish ill on a man as badly wrong as Barack Obama to wish that he may be made uncomfortable by his conscience in the areas where he is wrong. It is, in fact, to wish him great good. Nor are the pro-life issues I am most thinking of (and they are only some of the issues) merely "political." They are moral, and it is a grave and potentially soul-destroying sin for one to further the pro-death agenda as Obama has done and intends to continue to do.
The grace of God does not come to us comfortably. All who are Christians know this. Christ sometimes, indeed, appears to us as disaster. I do not mean personal and physical disaster, though of course God can use that for good as well, but rather that sense of an imminent overturning of one's categories, that sense that one may be called upon to do something one very much does not want to do, that sense that good is good, and bad is bad, that God is good, but that one may not after all be on His side.
When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested’... indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: You have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the “lord of terrible aspect,’ is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, not the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Pray for Barack Obama, that he may have uneasy nights.
(HT to Eldest Daughter for reminding me of the Chambers reference.)