State lawmakers and executives take up their work in earnest in January in Indiana - and probably in most states. God's people need to be earnest in making supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way, as the Lord commands us through Paul. How can we more effectively pray?
In 2004, Matthew Barnes began to call Hoosiers to pray for their leaders, and he established the Public Servants' Prayer ministry. He developed an e-reminder system as part of the ministry that gives intercessors three elected leaders to pray for each day. Having seen the Lord's blessing on this ministry here, he has expanded this portion of the ministry to all fifty states. Go to the Public Servants' Prayer website to sign up for daily or weekly email/Facebook/Twitter reminders to pray for specific leaders in your state.
What have been the results here? As Matt has ministered to public servants over the last eight years, as he has prayed for them, and as he has encouraged churches to pray for their leaders, God has brought significant changes in our state. Christians have stepped up and are making conscious efforts to meet individually with their elected officials to develop relationships with them and learn how better to pray for them. One elected leader who is a Christian recently said: “I don’t know exactly what you are doing, but whatever it is, don’t stop! It is working.”
I wrote last year about the prayer service just prior to the beginning of the legislative session. This year, approximately 450 people attended the event in the atrium of the statehouse, including a majority of the 150 lawmakers of the House and Senate. The Speaker of the House prefaced his opening prayer by reminding the participants that we had gathered because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that because of the work of Jesus, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Thirty minutes of prayers in Jesus' name followed from a variety of political, civic, and pastoral leaders. It's a great blessing to hear Christian members of opposing parties pray for one another to the one true God just before they take up their work. More than just those present were praying, however. The increasing interest in the prayer service seems to be a barometer of swelling numbers of Christians praying at home, too.
My children and I soon sat in the House gallery as that body convened and heard the opening statements from leaders of the minority and majority caucuses. I was mindful that much sin remains and that we as a state do not glorify God as we ought. Of course, legislation must be passed and policies set that do glorify God. But as we sat in the gallery it was also obvious that God was already answering the prayers of the prior hour. When God's people pray expectantly, he often opens doors of ministry right and left. Through such ministry, he changes people; in turn, he changes a whole state. Matthew Henry affirmed the same when he wrote that when God designs mercy for a people: "first he brings them to their duty and pours out a spirit of prayer upon them, and then brings salvation to them."
Perhaps our statehouse is unique in having a privately-organized Christian prayer service with such strong participation as a preface to the new legislative assemblies. But, nine years ago, this prayer time did not exist. Humanly speaking, it came about through the diligent prayer and labor of one man who has sought to take 1 Timothy 2:1-2 seriously and who has diligently called others to do the same. May the Lord raise up laborers to do the same in other states!