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Prayers You’d Rather Not Pray

In my church, like many others, we pray for various people in authority: Presidents, governors, legislators, and also church officials, including the president of the church body. And sometimes that’s easier than others. Sometimes I approve of what those officials are doing and other times I think they’re doing their job badly: Sometimes that means incompetence, but other times I think they’re abusing their office.

Alas, God doesn’t give me the option of only praying for the ones I endorse. So I find myself, shall we say, modifying my prayers — mentally adding qualifications along the lines of “I pray that (fill in the blank) does his job as he’s meant to do, with wisdom and virtue, for the purposes for which You have created this office.”

Is there a problem with this approach? Depends. The wording is fine in and of itself: It may be better than just “I pray for (fill in the blank),” because it’s actually focusing on God’s purposes, not merely endorsing a human being’s acts because he’s in authority. But is that always what I’m doing? Or while I’m silently saying the right words, is my mind wandering off to start, shall we say, editorializing? (“I pray, Lord, that he does your will, because it’s about time this clown get started after all the garbage he’s been pulling, like A and B and C and….“)

That’s my struggle, But in some ways I have it easy. I’ve got no enemies, no one who’s ever really hurt me emotionally. I can only imagine how much harder it is to pray for someone who’s wounded you personally, much less someone who’s still wounding you. That’s got to be the tough part.

What kind of prayers give you trouble? What sort of people do you have trouble praying for? How do you handle it?


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About the Author

Matt Kaufman

Matt Kaufman has been a columnist for Boundless since the site’s founding in 1998, and did a stint as editor in 2002-2003. He’s also a former staffer and current contributing editor for Focus on the Family Citizen magazine. Matt is a freelance writer/editor who spent some years in Colorado, but gave up the mountains for the cornfields: He now lives in his hometown of Urbana, home of the University of Illinois. His house is a five minute drive from the one where he grew up, and he enjoys daily walks around the park where he used to play baseball.

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