March 07, 2014
Mar 04 - Craig and Deb Bensen
We frequently say that we want to “pray on site with insight”. For matters of culture, politics and government, we also want to be praying “on time with insight”. Some basic research can help us both better our timing and increase our insight.
A frequent preachers’ admonition calls for our prayers to be done with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. In modern times, the iPad lets us do both with one hand! The ultimate point serves to emphasize that we ought to be praying into what’s going on in the culture around us.
The internet helps us improve our awareness of what is going on and to anticipate what might be going on in the days ahead. The way is not new—calendars—but the accessibility and diversity of calendar information is now much greater for the average person.
Praying with an “Intercessory Eye”
As an example, below is one month from The Wall Street Journal Online’s 2014 Calendar . This is published with an eye to items that might have an effect on business, culture, politics and the stock markets. But read the items with an “intercessory eye” while asking the Holy Spirit to guide you:
Spring 2014—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed cut to ethanol mandate is expected to be finalized, which could further complicate the already difficult outlook for the U.S. ethanol industry.
1 Japan raises sales tax to 8% from 5%
*Deadline for Swiss banks with U.S. assets to declare them to Justice Department
4 U.S. monthly employment numbers
5 Afghanistan holds national elections to pick a successor to Hamid Karzai
5-7 U.S. men’s college basketball Final Four
10-13 Masters golf tournament
11-13 International Monetary Fund spring meeting is set for Washington
14 Expected start of trial for Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza, accused of conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helping abduct two American tourists and 14 other people in Yemen in 1998
19 U.S. federal government deadline to ease prison crowding in California
21 First Boston Marathon after bombings
29-30 Federal Reserve Board meeting
Reviewing this one WSJ calendar month might prompt an investor to consider selling Japanese stocks and California bonds, plus move some funds out of his Swiss accounts. A sports fan might make a note to Tivo the golf and basketball events. But an intercessor might be prompted to pray for the folks in Middle America who will lose their jobs as ethanol plants downsize and close. Or to pray for peace in the midst of a rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Or to offer prayers for healing grace on behalf of many in the Boston area who will be revisiting the trauma of last Spring’s Marathon bombings.
Praying the 2014 Election Calendars
We know that the 2014 election cycle is warming up. We also know that much of the country doesn’t begin to pay attention until October. This is also when most of the church begins to focus prayer on the elections. However, when we pray on such a time table, we are beginning to pray when 80% of the decisions have already been made. With a bit of research and a 2014 election calendar, we can greatly improve our timing and our results.
Try Wikipedia’s 2014 election overview for a good glance at the US Election landscape.
Mapped graphics show US Senate seats up for election in 2014 and highlight items like which party holds the seat, pending retirements, open seats, etc. Here are links to several other pages specializing in:
Individuals need to check out state specific links for exact details, but the general flow is this:
Now through early June, candidates and parties are completing the task of deciding who’s on the Primary Ballot. In “single party” states where the dominant party’s Primary winner will be the General Election winner, future Senators, Congressmen and Governors are being “elected” some 5-6 months prior to November 4th!
June through Mid-September is Primary Election Season, decisions are being made at the ballot box to determine the General Election candidates. In states where there will be strongly contested races, this is the season when the big bucks will be raised and a portion (10-15%) of the electorate will begin to pay attention to the upcoming elections.
Mid-September through November 4th is General Election Season. The media coverage ramps up and shifts into overdrive. Big bucks are being spent by in state and out of state groups to win the votes of the 50% of voters who will cast a ballot in November. Because of the increased focus and widespread interest, this is the season when small items - misstatements, disclosures, etc. - can kill a candidate’s campaign quickly.
In many states, early voting via absentee ballot results in 20-25% of the votes already being cast prior to General Election Day on November 4th.
If we’re to be “wise as serpents” in our governmental prayers, we must learn how our leaders think and plan. For the ambitious politician, the election calendars are seen as “stepping stones” in their journey to higher office. Their current focus may be on winning their next election, but their vision is on the higher office they aspire to hold.
We see this here in Vermont. Our current governor, Peter Shumlin, has aspired to be a US Senator since before he became a member of Vermont’s House of Representatives 2 decades ago. He’s served terms as a Representative and a State Senator. He won a wild 5-way Democrat primary in 2010 on his way to becoming governor. Now there’s speculation that Vermont’s senior US Senator, Patrick Leahy, will not run for reelection in 2016. Rumor suggests that Senator Leahy may step down in 2015 which would allow Gov. Shumlin to appoint himself to fill out the rest of Leahy’s term and give him a great advantage in the 2016 election. The only impediment to this plan is GOP Lt. Governor Phil Scott who would be elevated to the governorship - something the Democrat Party would be unhappy with.
Knowing this timeline, we can pray that God’s leaders will be raised up, that His choices would be those who come into office and that He would overrule the schemes of men. Additionally, we who know something of our governor’s character and history are also praying for “those things that need to be exposed” to be brought into the light. We continue to pray that Peter Shumlin would come into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, for his own sake and for the sake of the state if his aspirations become reality.
On the national level, former First Lady Hillary Clinton has been campaigning for the presidency since 2004. Her biography tells of how both she and Bill Clinton had presidential aspirations from before they met each other. Bill fulfilled this goal in 1992. Hillary missed her first chance in 2008. Now she’s aiming at 2016. Here we also pray that “those things that need to be exposed” will come into the light. And we pray that Hillary Clinton would be in a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, for her own sake and for the sake of the nation and the world if her aspirations become reality.
Praying the Decision Points
Working on the belief that God will be looking for our prayers to release His plans during the Primary and General Election seasons, we may offer these prayers:
1) That God’s choice(s) would have volunteers, funding and favor in full supply to accomplish their calling in this season.
2) That the Light of Truth will shine where it needs to shine revealing the good, the bad and the ugly about the candidates, the political parties and the process.
3) That the plans, schemes, “dirty tricks”, etc., of those seeking to manipulate the elections would be exposed and/or fall prey to the Law of Unintended Consequences (what is meant for a curse becomes a blessing).
4) That God’s people would purpose to vote in this season and would vote informed by facts, prayer and the Holy Spirit.
5) That citizen support for strong family values would be a major message perceived and reported by the media during this season.
6) That this election season would be characterized by the quality of the ideas and solutions debated, not by the false hopes and promises of past elections.
7) That our citizenry would be better informed and more resolute in choosing candidates of substance; that we would demand a new era of Americans working together to solve our problems and move into our future; that we would vote for those who share our vision.
 The Wall Street Journal Online, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303773704579268650638732572