Thursday, October 28, 2010


Reinhold Niebuhr once wrote: “Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” (Children of Light, Children of Darkness.) To which I would simply add, "Amen!"

It has been said more than once that if you want to know what Episcopalians believe, then come and pray with us. We are not a dogmatic Church but that doesn't mean (contrary to what some say!) that we don't believe anything. But our beliefs flow out of our personal and corporate prayers.

There is an entire section of prayers in The Book of Common Prayer that I commend to all in these last days before the midterm elections, whatever your denominational affiliation may or may not be.

There is a prayer there for our country
. (BCP 820) Among other things, that prayer asks for God to bless us with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners and to save us from violence, discord, confusion, pride, arrogance and 'every evil way.' It also asks God to fill our hearts with thankfulness in days of prosperity and "in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail."

There is a prayer there for the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority. It is important to pray this prayer not only when we are happy with the current incumbent of the office but always. I don't know if this is a recent historical development or not but I heard liberals during the Bush Administration say, "he's not my president" and I hear conservatives during the Obama Administration say, "he's not my president." Both were and are wrong. We pray for the President whether or not we agree with his policies, because he is the duly elected leader of us all, and because every President needs our prayers.

There is a litany for Sound Government. My favorite part of that litany is that after praying for elected leaders, and judges and officers of the courts the prayer gets to the very heart of a democracy by asking God "to teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens..." (BCP 822)

There are prayers for local government, for members of the armed forces, and for those who suffer for the sake of conscience. And there is a prayer there for an election, which goes like this:
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives, that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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