Oh Lord, my Lord, how majestic is your name in all of the earth. For it is you and you alone, my God, to whom all power and honor and glory belongs. In obedience to your Holy Word, I lift up this prayer as a sweet offering for those who rule over us.
Have mercy upon us my Savior, for we are people who are divided, brother against brother and sister against sister. This is obvious when we examine the results of our last presidential election, where 51 percent voted for the incumbent and 48 percent voted for the challenger.
I pray that you, O gracious Lord, provide the newly elected president with the wisdom of recognizing a need for reconciliation and of uniting a very divided nation. Let not human arrogance cloud his vision into believing a mandate has been given to pursue a policy that continues to disenfranchise a significant portion of the constituents.
I can only hope, my precious Sustainer, that we can ask hard questions as to who voted for whom--not for the purpose of tearing down, but to learn and explore the reasons of our division. Infuse the president with a desire to know why the vast majority of people of color were not willing to support him. What do they know and what do they experience that the rest of white America refuses to recognize?
Forgive, O merciful One, our rush to idolatry, when we are quick to exchange our trust in you for a trust in politicians. Let us not fall into the temptation of exchanging the glory of the immortal God for a worthless imitation--the image of mortal humans who can deceive the sheep with words and deeds of piety while simultaneously pursuing policies that bring much death and misery to your children, specifically those who are already disenfranchised.
Remind us, O Lord, never to fuse or confuse political ideology with your Holy Word. For to say that the political opinions of any one leader or party come directly from you is to fall into the error of the Israelites of old who, facing conquest from the Babylonians, chose to put their trust in the strength of Egypt's armies, rather than the words of your prophet Jeremiah.
We beseech you O God not to withhold your Holy Spirit, leaving us instead to our own filthy practices of gluttony, pride, arrogance and self-centeredness, since we have given up divine truth for a lie, worshiping political parties and politicians who are but creatures instead of the Creator, who is blessed for ever.
Do not, O Lord, abandon us to the degrading passions of nationalism, refusing to see that you are the God of all nations, not just one--and love all people, not just us. Yes, for you are the Prince of Peace who not only weeps when our children die violent deaths in war, but you also shed tears when those we call "enemy" die by our hands.
We have exchanged the virtuous through character assassination for the prize of higher office, and the poor for a pair of sandals. We have trampled on the heads of ordinary people for corporate gain. Woe to those who turn justice into wormwood, throwing integrity to the ground, hating the one who calls for justice and detesting those who boldly and honestly speak the Word of the Lord.
Thus we pray that as a nation, our political policies fall in line with your call, specifically: feed the hungry, provide drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the alien, provide for the sick, minister to the incarcerated. For when we attend to the least among us--the marginalized, the disenfranchised--we attend to you.
Forgive our refusal to acknowledge you as God through public policies that contribute to increasing the gap between the rich and the poor, either through tax policies, unfair labor laws, or sweetheart deals to corporations who funded political campaigns. For if through our mouths we continue to declare you our Lord, but through our actions continue to support policies that brings hardship and misery upon so many, then you will leave us to our own irrational ideas and the monstrous consequences of our choices and behavior.
Lord of my salvation, I come to you in prayer for this nation for I have nowhere else to turn. You are the Author of all life, making you presence known so that all who are created in your image can have the potential of an abundant life, not only in the hereafter, but in the here and now.
So I close this prayer in the hope that in spite of any politician, any personal agenda or any political ideology, your justice will flow like living water, and integrity like an unfailing stream.
And as a reminder to keep this prayer in my heart daily, as well as a symbol of protest to the peril of what this nation may become, I commit to wear a blue armband on my left arm, until at least inauguration day.
Miguel De La Torre, a Cuban American, is professor of theologies of liberation at Hope College in Holland, Mich. He is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former Baptist pastor in Kentucky. His column also appears in the Holland Sentinel.
Order Miguel De La Torre's book Reading the Bible from the Margins now from Amazon.com