As we approach the presidential election, we have been seeking guidance from God’s Word as we pray for our nation and its people. This month we are discussing the need to take a stand on our knees as dual citizens of our nation and God’s kingdom as we make intercession for our nation and its leaders.
We now seek to pledge allegiance on our knees, representing our dual citizenship in a way that honors God, no matter who wins the election.
An atheist named Michael Newdow brought a suit in 2002 seeking to remove the words “under God” from the “Pledge of Allegience.” That phrase still causes controversy today. There are two ways to say the pledge—one with a comma between “one nation” and “under God,” the other without it. Let’s look at it both ways.
First, with the comma: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands—one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” This way separates our unity and our spiritual lives.
Now let’s say the pledge again, removing that comma: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands—one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I checked—this is the official way to recite the pledge. Let’s learn to say “one nation under God” and mean it. How can we make this pledge true in our country and in our lives? And why does the issue matter so very much?
Pledging allegiance with the early church
Let’s examine what Peter instructed the early Christians in Asia Minor to do regarding authority that will help us to pledge allegiance on our knees as we face this momentous election.
Peter begins his teachings to the church: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13a). “Submit”—place yourself under the authority of another. This is an imperative in the Greek—a command, not an option. The command is in the present tense, an ongoing commitment
Do this “for the Lord’s sake”—not because the authorities in question deserve your loyalty, but because God requires it. Not because you like or don’t like the administration, or the person who will be elected on November 3. But because you love the Lord.
“To every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors” (vs. 13b-14). “Every authority”—again, no exceptions or qualifications; whether you voted for them or not.
The “king” would be Caesar to Peter, the president to us. “Governors” would be their regional authorities, exercising the power of the Empire; they would be local and state officials to us.
“Show proper respect to everyone” (v. 17a). Again, a present tense imperative—a daily command to obey. “Respect to everyone”—allegiance, positive encouragement; not slander but support wherever you can. If Peter could do this with Nero, Americans can do this with our president and our leaders.
How? “Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (v. 17b).
Love each other—don’t fear one another. Honor the king—don’t fear him; and you don’t have to love him.
Fear God—reverence him alone. Now, how do we do all three? How do we love America, honor our leaders, and fear our Lord?
We vote. We exercise the right eleven million Cubans do not have, just 90 miles south of our country. We exercise the freedom thousands of Americans have died over the years to protect.
Millions of us have already voted either through early voting in person or by mail. Even with the pandemic, there can be no excuse for every American of voting age not to vote.
So we vote, and we pray. We pray because we love our nation and its people, because we honor our leaders, and because we fear God. Now, how can we pray best? How can we pray so that God can bless America?
Pray for America to be “one nation”
Americans are more divided in this election than in memory.
President Trump or former vice president Biden must win 270 out of 538 electoral votes to achieve the presidency. Commentators are now discussing options never mentioned in my lifetime. Both sides are preparing extensive legal teams in case the election results are contested. That’s how divided the country is.
We’re divided, and distrustful. Concerns about possible voter fraud are mounting.
Rhetoric is extreme. President Trump and Biden are being castigated and caricatured in ways more destructive and slanderous than I can remember ever seeing in America.
But Jesus is clear: “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). When cracks appear in the foundation, the entire structure is in danger of collapse.
So we must pray for the unity of our nation. Specifically, we must pray:
- That the election process will be completed without fraud or disunity.
- That the results will be determinative enough to help the nation move forward.
- That our people will support whoever is elected, whatever the outcome.
- That we will find ways to move forward as “one nation.”
Pray for Americans to be “under God”
How can such unity be achieved? By praying for Americans to be “under God.” The closer we get to him, the closer we get to each other.
Our founders knew that we need a vertical dimension to make the horizontal work; that we need the spiritual to achieve the relational.
George Washington added the pledge, “So help me God” to his inaugural oath, and later said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
William Penn, founder and governor of the Pennsylvania colony, said, “If we will not be governed by God, we will be ruled by tyrants.”
Am I suggesting that America is or should be a “Christian” nation? Absolutely not. There is not one reference to God in the Constitution. We cannot compel any person to faith in Jesus Christ, or vote our Lord into office.
We are not to pray that our nation become Christian, but that our people become Christians.
We are called to be the light of the world, reflecting Jesus in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16). We are the moon to the Son. The moon produces no light of its own; “moonlight” is simply reflected sunlight. We are to pray that nothing eclipses our witness in reflecting the Son to our nation and world.
Are you “one nation” with your fellow Americans today? Have you maligned a candidate or a fellow citizen? Has your attitude been godly? Is there a relationship you must restore?
The London Times asked G. K. Chesterton and other well-known writers to submit essays on the topic, “what’s wrong with the world.”
Chesterton’s essay: “Dear Sirs, I am.”