Some things require care when mixing, such as ministry and money, pastoring and politics. As such, there’s a tendency simply to play it safe and keep them separate. John Newton, ex-slave captain and writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” said of his friend William Wilberforce, the British Member of Parliament, “I hope the Lord will make him a blessing both as a Christian and a statesman. How seldom do these two characters coincide! But they are not incompatible.” Wilberforce devoted his entire life to ending the African Slave Trade in the West Indies, and saw his goal realized just three days before his death. His campaign also brought significant social reforms to the treatment of the poor and to ending animal cruelty.
Even in Newton’s and Wilberforce’s day, the temptation was often to act out of fear of involvement, thereby forfeiting altogether a godly narrative in the arena of public policy.
“I have observed over the years that many Christians seem to be pulled in two directions when it comes to their Christianity and how to apply it in a political world,” Pastor Brad Sherman of Iowa says. “Our hearts tell us to get involved and make a difference, especially when we see ungodly leaders taking our nation down a path of destruction. On the other hand, many of us have been taught that things are going to get progressively worse and, as a result, we wonder if there is any need to try. The result is sometimes a double-minded approach which lacks purpose and confidence.”
I thought it might be useful to share my own journey of carrying a torch for the nation, the rebuffs I received that would have kept me from my calling (and which sounded spiritual), and the blessing in disguise in testing them that brought me into greater certainty of God’s will and my role in it.
My first prophetic utterance was concerning Ronald Reagan, and it happened the day before my fourth birthday. That was March 30th, 1980, the day Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr. I don’t remember it, but my mother has told me of my marching back to the room where she was tearfully watching news coverage and declaring Psalm 46:1.
I remember watching Reagan’s speeches later as a grade schooler. And I remember marveling at the fact that my grandparents’ (Pentecostal) church had an American flag in it while our (Anabaptist) church never would dream of it.
An aunt who lived in D.C. and an uncle who was special counsel to the Attorney General further fostered my interest in politics when I’d go to visit. In high school I spent a week in D.C. through our school’s Close-Up program. And through all of it and later living abroad in Europe, patriotism burned in me like a flame.
Looking back, I can see how this passion for history and for politics was God-given, inherent. I never seemed to have the power to hold back my disagreement when it clashed with the mainstream, and often found my worldview a minority among professors and peers. Had my zeal for country not been God-given, I suppose it would have been extinguished long ago as I bore a lot of reproach; seldom did my outlook fit in with the crowd.
In my twenties, I was an activist, attending rallies and marches, calling up talk radio shows, and occasionally blasting politicians and pundits that I judged to be miscreants. At this time, I was not walking with the Lord.
When my husband and I were newlyweds, I began seriously studying the scriptures, and as I did so, several passages seized my attention.
One was Daniel 10, in which Daniel is fasting and praying for 21 days.
In this passage, Daniel has been fasting for 21 days, eating only the blandest of foods, drinking no alcohol, not using lotion or ointments on his skin. A heavenly messenger comes to Daniel, and this is what he says:
“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. . .” (v. 12-13)
A few verses later in this passage, the messenger says,
“Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince)” (v. 20-21)
Daniel 10 very clearly indicates that there are spiritual forces at work behind national and international events. Not only are these forces at work in politics, but spiritual forces actually reign over geographical locations. In this instance, the heavenly messenger speaking to Daniel says that he has been detained by the prince of the Persian kingdom. This is not an earthly prince, but a Satanic one, with power and authority over the province of Persia.
The messenger sent to Daniel references two other spirits: the prince of Greece, and the angel Michael, whom he calls “one of the chief princes,” a protector of Israel. These representatives are from Satan’s kingdom and from God’s kingdom, and the entities are fighting each other.
This passage in Daniel further makes it clear that prayer and fasting are key to world events. Prayer and fasting actually affect the spirit realm, giving way to victories in spiritual battles. A messenger sent by God to Daniel with a vision was impeded by a demonic power and could not get there until Daniel’s prayer and fasting broke through the power!
Time and time again, when I have been tempted to become engulfed in anger or fear because of current events, the Lord has brought me back to Daniel 10. It is the spiritual powers behind the politicians, pundits, and news outlets that we wrestle with, just as Paul said in Ephesians 6:12. This is what must be uprooted and overthrown in order to live peacefully and prosper in this land. Prayer and fasting is what can stop wars and take down drug lords. Prayer and fasting is also what breaks demonic mindsets over entire parts of the population
At the same time that I was meditating on these scriptures, a friend from church sent me an article by a well-known journalist, suggesting that with the election of our 44th president, it was time to get past this idea of restoring America to her God-ordained purpose. That didn’t sit well with me, but because I trusted my friend and he had been walking with the Lord longer than I, I also didn’t discard the notion. Instead, my mind went back to it often, wondering if this was true. The prospect was depressing. Were we just to sit around and watch our godly national inheritance and liberties deteriorate?
One thing that I did know to be true was that believers are the aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15-16), and that impassioned as I was to see an end to the systematic murder of babies in our land, verbally blistering those who were their oppressors might not always be the solution.
I felt sullied and frustrated with activism, because I felt I couldn’t do it righteously. So for a period of time, I gave up making phone calls, contacting senators, calling corporate headquarters, and getting involved. As the pendulum swings hard in one direction, now it was coming back the other way.
Meanwhile, I carried around this constant burden for the nation. While I was active in many prayer circles, we seldom prayed for government. We prayed for sickness and prodigals and for the town and for personal needs. Occasionally I would venture out with a petition for the country, but the other prayers would quickly go back to the list of personal needs. I usually felt like my prayer burden wasn’t spiritual enough. Certainly it wasn’t as important as praying for revival, I figured.
The summer of 2012 I was reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Although I’d been a German major in college and studied in Germany, for the first time I saw the rise of the Third Reich in spiritual terms. Moreover, I was seeing parallels between National Socialism under Hitler and ideologies here in the United States for the very first time. My spirit was lit up within me, but I felt powerless to do anything.
As I wrestled with questions like, “Is there any hope for America?” and “What does restoration even look like?” and what really was God’s will, God was bringing rich teaching, along with powerful personal healing and deliverance. I was growing in my faith, and growing in my spiritual gifts.
I was writing and prayer journaling a lot, even as a busy mom of two preschool children. The Lord kept showing me all the places in scripture in which He heard the cries of His people and was moved by prayer for the land. As I put before Him how He felt about America, He took me again and again to Isaiah 66:8, which asks “Can a nation be born in a day?” In all of this, my paradigm began shifting, especially as I read the Bible daily.
For the first time, I saw Heaven not just as a place to which to escape after death, but as a kingdom that Jesus had preached and told us to preach, administer, and bring to earth (Matthew 6:10). God’s supreme objective as revealed through scripture is to bring His kingdom to earth. This was revolutionary to me! “Rule the earth,” God had told Adam and Eve. “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth He has given to mankind” (Psalm 115:16). And after Adam and Eve had forfeited Paradise, Christ had given His life for the redemption of everything that was under the curse (Galatians 3:13).
There was something else: the strong admonition Paul had written to Timothy. “First of all, I urge that intercession, petitions, prayer and thanksgiving be offered up for all men, for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). First of all. First of all. Praying for the government and those in authority was to be top priority for the church, even before personal needs. Why? So that we could live godly lives, in peace and dignity. The will of God was not chaos, nor futility, nor dishonor and confusion.
We are kings and priests unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9, Rev. 1:6). As priests, we minister to the Lord and have access to Him. As kings, we rule with Christ in His authority. When fellow believers from around the world come to the United States, this authority in Christ is the one thing they universally say they wish the church here understood better. We often instead pray like those “who doubt, driven and tossed like the surf. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
One of the greatest things God has taught me is to listen for His word. We are instructed to walk this journey by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The Holy Spirit often gives me a word to stand on, or to proclaim, in the face of uncertainty and adversity. His word opens doors.
Once I have certainty of God’s will, there’s nothing to stop me from moving in my authority in Christ and bringing His kingdom to earth (Matthew 6:10). Over and over these last several years, in spite of the news, the predictions, the polls, I followed the lead of His Spirit and continued to pray His kingdom come and to declare righteousness. Even in the face of lawlessness and godlessness in government and in culture, and a church at large that seemed not even in the stands, daily the Holy Spirit stirred me to pray and believe for righteousness.
“I cannot expect Hell,” my pastor once said. “All I can pray is Heaven.” Jesus came to bring life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10). All I knew to do with my calling was to administer that life through my prayers and actions into the arena of public policy.
And, in addition to prayer, I believe the good stewardship of liberty means exercising our franchise, attending certain political events (I go under the direction of the Holy Spirit), as well as taking the initiative to contact elected officials to express our opinions and also offer our prayer support for them. Companies and organizations that are antichrist in nature will not get my business if I find out about their agenda, and they will get a (courteous) phone call explaining why (this done in a godly way has given me amazing opportunity to witness to corporate representatives).
Volumes could be written about specific words God gave me concerning key issues, how a remnant rallied whenever there was a call to pray for the nation, and also the continued resistance on the part of the church at large to pray for the president and our leaders, despite scripture’s clear instruction.
One very interesting component is that God sent encouragement to pray for the United States from Uganda, Kenya, and former Eastern Bloc nations. That is, some of my most faith-filled brothers and sisters come from these nations, and infused a fresh perspective on how vital it is to pray for the nation and to cherish the liberty we have here.
My pastor also built me up in my faith when he told me recently, “You have to walk in your God-given anointing” when I told him how I struggled with this American version of Christianity that demands everyone be “nice” and say feel-good things all the time, shying away from controversy. He also showed me a George Barna study that indicates while 90% of pastors believe the Bible speaks to controversial issues of our day, less than 10% are wiling to talk about them.
In conclusion, while we love people, we also love the truth. The kingdom of heaven is righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17) and therefore must be brought into every area of public policy!