General Election Day
Democracy

Voting is a moral obligation, but praying for those in authority is a divine command

 

On Saturday in The Times, Graham Tomlin, the widely respected principal of St Mellitus Theological College, wrote a profound article on the relationship between the authority of our political leaders and that of God: ‘A leader who prays is reminded they are not God‘. He observed:

At the heart of every general election is the question of leadership…

We call the leader of the party in government the prime minister, in other words, the first servant of the people he or she works for. It is a way of saying that while we need someone to lead, they are only ever a servant, not a master of the people, because any power they have is borrowed, not owned. The title is in fact, an expression of the deep Christian suspicion of human rulers who think they are God…

According to St Paul rulers are to be obeyed, prayed for and honoured. At the same time, when they try to compel worship to the gods of the age they are to be resisted. Caesar does not get a great press in the New Testament.

This ambivalence stems from the one single source. It is the idea that while kings, rulers and emperors might be necessary, they are never the last word in leadership, because the top job is already taken. There is ultimately only one Ruler, King or Lord: God the Creator and Sustainer of life. In the New Testament, this is expressed as an implication of the central Christian claim: the provocative and political statement that Jesus Christ, not Caesar, Herod or the High Priest, is the true Lord of Heaven and Earth.

Democracy and voting on election day is a very earthly activity. We take a trip to the polling station, pick up the stubby pencil, make our mark and deposit our paper in the ballot box. It is a process that demands the utmost respect as we choose our leaders for the next five years. But for those who understand the spiritual dimension of life, it is equally important that we do not detach the secular from the sacred. As we enter into what will inevitably be an historic day, we need to remember, as Tomlin makes it clear, that whatever the outcome, God is sovereign over all. We offer our allegiance to a candidate and a party at the polling booth, but this should never usurp our allegiance to the God of Heaven.

It is to our Heavenly Father that we should be first directing our attentions to today, to ask humbly that we might make the best use of our vote. So, too, should we pray for this nation and what lies ahead. This is a time for men and women to rise up with humble hearts willing to serve the people of this country and not pursue any selfish gain. We need leaders who desire wisdom and know that without submission to God their task and ability to shun arrogance and pride will be far harder. Whatever the outcome of this General Election, we, too, should be praying that during any negotiations the parties will seek the interests of the people beyond their own ideologies and individual goals.

This is a day to submit to God in prayerful reverence and humility, for we long for this country to be blessed through its pursuit of God’s ways and moral values both in government and beyond. We need to ask with sincere hearts that ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’

The Church of England is provides prayers for almost every occasion, and today is no exception. This is a good place for each one of us to start as we lift ourselves and our political leaders to God on this most important of days:

Lord, we give thanks for the privileges and responsibilities of living in a 
democratic society.
Give us wisdom to play our part at election time, that, through the exercise 
of each vote, your Kingdom may come closer.
Protect us from the sins of despair and cynicism, guard us against the idols of false utopias and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling that serves 
the common good of all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

Feel free to add your own prayerful reflection either in this comment thread beneath or via the (under-used and often idle) prayer facility on the Homepage.

  • len

    I just pray that God doesn`t give us the Government we deserve….

    • sarky

      That obviously depends on who you vote for. Bit of a dumb comment.

      • CliveM

        Really why?

        From a Christian pov it was perfectly reasonable.

        • sarky

          Because if you’re Conservative, then a labour government is the one you don’t want god to give you. However, if you’re a labour supporter then a Conservative government is the one you don’t want god to give you.
          Hence god is either good or bad depending which side of the political fence you sit on, therfore, dumb comment.

          • CliveM

            That assumes everyone has a very narrow and partisan view of politics. It is not always the case and except with the most die hard party supporter, most supporters will admit that mistakes have been made.

            You’re viewing the comment to narrowly.

          • big

            Mistakes like invading Iraq ……..oh i just couldn’t resist it clive now i am going to leave you in peace.

          • CliveM

            Wasn’t my part in power. The mistake was bad enough, the lying is I forgivable.

          • Yours is the dumb comment. Either you didn’t read it properly (and it was only one line!) or you are being deliberately thick.
            .
            Len didn’t mention the Government we wanted, he was talking about the Government we deserve. Pray God we don’t get that.

          • sarky

            The ‘government we deserve, ‘, will still have been voted for by many christians, so for some will be the ‘government we wanted’. Don’t think I’m the one being dumb.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        It doesn’t just depend on who forms a government. It also depends on what that government does in power. It depends on whether they keep their promises (loud guffaw) and what dirty tricks they have up their sleeve that they kept out of their manifesto and out of the Queen’s speech. Watch out for stealth policies!

    • William Lewis

      Quite. Lord have mercy on us.

    • IanCad

      Or; as Mencken put it:

      “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

      • Pubcrawler

        Good old Menken. The closest the Yanks have to Dr Johnson.

  • Old Blowers

    “We offer our allegiance to a candidate and a party at the polling booth,
    but this should never usurp our allegiance to the God of Heaven.” Young Gillan, you do know you are preaching to the converted here, don’t you?

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Agreed. Not one of the political parties can compare to the power and authority of God. That goes for UKIP too, whom I am supporting. I think it’s important to keep the election in perspective. Man has only limited powers to change his world, whereas God has power to create it or destroy it. The lines “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” seem more important today than usual.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Not only converted but more able than those standing.

    • Inspector General

      I say Blowers, Scott is in education, don’t you know? He likes talking down to us ‘little ones’…

  • magnolia

    From the Nativity Prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian (A.D. 306-373)

    “Your day is celebrated from generation to generation.
    Kings and Emperors may pass away,
    And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
    But your festival will be remembered until the end of time.”

  • Pubcrawler

    “pick up the stubby pencil”

    Or use your own pen, so that the mark is indelible and unalterable.

    • CliveM

      Your sounding like the SNP post referendum!!

      • Pubcrawler

        Ouch!!

  • magnolia

    Charles V lay in his coffin, reportedly, each day, to remind him of his mortality, of his accountability to God, and of the ephemeral nature of his considerable power.

    Perhaps a coffin should be permanently installed in the basement of no. 10 for a weekly reminder of same for the PM and cabinet. I wonder what difference it would make!

    • There’s a few there already – for visiting vampires.

    • Anton

      Is that Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Charles V or the earlier French monarch?

      • magnolia

        Holy Roman Emperor Charles V .

        • Anton

          That’s a daft practice. Time enough to do that when you’re dead.

          • magnolia

            The Hapsburgs were a little crazy from time to time. And a mite- or more- inbred. Nevertheless the range of Europe he ruled over was massive, and his power vast, and in that position you are surrounded by people who don’t help with humility. Possibly he is the only person who has ruled over so much territory without being a megolamaniac and a villain, an achievement in itself. He also abdicated through ill health and spent his last 2 years in a monastery.

          • Anton

            He drove many wars that brought misery to much of Europe’s population. Of course so did many other rulers, so that’s all right then…

          • magnolia

            Not sure about “drove”. He much preferred peace to war, which is a start, and puts him way up over Richard the Lionheart and similar. Yes, he warred with France but the French can be an awkward lot, as we are reminded daily! He also drove back the Muslim attempt to conquer Europe which might be seen as necessary, though there are better ways, but very few have ever found them.

            I am glad the Ottoman Empire did not extend further and Europe is not Muslim, and Charles V is partly to thank for this.

          • Anton

            Yes he is – and interestingly protestant troops were willing to fight under him for that cause (whereas Francois I allied with the Turks). But wouldn’t it have been wonderful if he, Francois and Henry VIII had said to each other, “We are supposed to serve the prince of peace, let’s not invade each other’s lands or fight proxy wars in Italy.” Or if the papacy, which was ideally placed, had knocked their heads together to that effect. It isn’t good enough to say that the standards of the day were different. Indeed they were, but Christians are supposed to challenge the standards of the day and who better than those with power? At least modern secular leaders in Europe understand that war is a horror rather than a noble thing.

  • grutchyngfysch

    “And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.””

    1 Samuel 8:7-9

  • Shadrach Fire

    Interesting that they said last night that 1 in 4 had not decided who to vote for.
    I looked at my twitter account just now and would commend anyone thinking of voting Conservative to go to @CConcern ‘Christian Concern’ their web site and look at their video on Cameron’s statements about Christianity and SSM. You almost might believe he had a split personality or an incredibly weak understanding of Christianity and an amazing lack of integrity.
    I shall vote UKIP primarily to reduce Eric Pickles majority.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      “You almost might believe he had a split personality or an incredibly weak understanding of Christianity and an amazing lack of integrity.”

      There’s no “almost” about it. You’re spot on

      Yes, Pickles has got himself into a bit of one. His grovelling apology to the LGBT lobby for not supporting SSM was a sad and sickening spectacle.

    • Graham Wood

      Thanks Shadrach, but I could not stomach viewing the vid. I’ve hardly recovered from watching the grotesquely awful video put out by the harridan and ex “culture” Minister Maria Miller which Cranny posted some weeks before the SSM debates. What a sickening, creepy load of insulting patronising immoral treacle whingeing for “equal marriage”. I sincerely hope that the voters in Basingstoke give this woman the royal boot today.

      • Inspector General

        Somebody mention Equal Marriage? Now, where’s that damn elephant gun when you need it…

        • Graham Wood

          Insp. Never mind the gun, the pen is mightier than the sword/gun etc!

          • Inspector General

            They also say the tongue is mightier than the pen….

  • Dominic Stockford

    Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14

    • Anton

      But that was a nation with a ratified covenant with God, which Britain does not have. “My people” now means Christians, and the correct analogue of this verse is “then I will heal their church.”

      • Dominic Stockford

        If Christ’s church is not revived and healed then there is no chance for the country.

        • Anton

          I am all for the church being strong in the scriptural sense of this word. But I think you will find it hard to define what you mean by “no chance for the country”. In the New Testament we are warned that the faithful church, at least, will always be a small minority in a world that is evil. We are to stand against evil wherever we encounter it, but we must not expect to transform the city/nation/world while Satan is its lord. Protestants had a chance to learn that lesson from the mediaeval Catholic experience. For that to happen we must await the glorious return of Jesus Christ.

  • Coniston

    I wish that if any party has a majority and forms the
    government they will not declare that everyone voting for them supports the
    whole of their manifesto. Most people are in the position of agreeing
    with perhaps 1% – 50% of the various parties’ manifestos. So if they
    agree with 55% of a particular party’s manifesto they will probably vote for
    that party. This does not mean they have endorsed that party’s manifesto. They have chosen the best of a bad lot.

    • Pubcrawler

      And then they blithely push through stuff that wasn’t even in the manifesto.

  • Inspector General

    Gentlemen, The Inspectorate’s vote has been cast. The Inspector wishes to announce that his dis-engagement from the Conservative party is now complete. That he had no inkling throughout his life there would ever come a day when this action was most necessary just goes to show that you don’t know what’s around the bloody corner…

    Anyway, Cameron can go ahead now and beatify and garland his beloved 49,000 lawfully convicted buggers, and your man here can honestly say he had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    The Inspector also wishes to inform that he will be staying up into the small hours to watch the unpleasantries as is his wont on general election night, before his traditional passing out in the Parker Knoll around ten to four. By then, the ghastly truth will have emerged, and the newly elected despicables will have begun to scheme among themselves on how best to further ruin this country (…that in no way deserves the likes of them…) . One does not wish to be conscious while that disgraceful deceit is taking place. Certainly not!

    Tally ho!

    • Inspector General

      One notes that Pink News did not miss the opportunity to ‘bum’ Farage in the last few days. All rather amusing over there…

    • Then Jack will join you in cyberspace, Inspector. Whiskey at the ready to celebrate and dull the pain. An entertaining night and early morning lies ahead.

      • Inspector General

        One has a full bottle of navy rum for the occasion, Jack.

        • Good heavens! Go easy then. Are you working tomorrow?

          • Inspector General

            Good Lord no!

          • CliveM

            I have a practically unlimited amount of alcohol on hand. I suspect I’ll need it. I wonder if I can become unconscious for the next 5 years!

        • not a machine

          I am sherry and nachos , anything could happen , but will shortly depart to renew an appearance on an old blog 🙂

        • Anton

          One thing I have learned in my 50+ years is that politicians are not worth a late night.

          • Inspector General

            Watching their defeat is. One is informed the Liberal Degenerate Danny Alexander is struggling…

  • One should pray for a political leader, agreed.
    Is it proper to pray that their term of office is shortened is some way, so that the harm they inflict is curtailed?

    • Anton

      Good question. I’d pray for the country and people that such a man rules, and for his repentance.

  • jsampson45

    ‘Offer our allegiance’? Our allegiance is to the Queen. Also, the prime minister is prime minister to the Queen.

    • Anton

      Then would she please stop signing evil bills into law?

      Her constitutional advisers inform her that she has no other choice than to do this. Perhaps that suits them and her, but it is not true, of course. Admittedly she is in a lousy position, the exact opposite of 1960s Trade Union leaders – responsibility without power.

      • Linus

        I agree. If Old Ma Mountbatten was against equal marriage, she should have refused to sign the bill into law. The resulting constitutional crisis would have provoked her long-overdue abdication and weakened the monarchy to the point where the looming Scottish break-away would have consigned it to the dustbin of history.

        Sigh! A great opportunity thwarted by the pragmatic survival instinct of the most amoral and self-serving family in Europe. One has to admire their sheer capacity for endurance even if it has turned them into Marks and Spencer bourgeoisie. Doors to manual, duchess! Pump out a couple more plastic children and direct your husband to sign whatever bill is placed before him and the crown will never slide from your head … siliconed tresses notwithstanding!

        • Anton

          I describe myself as a “head monarchist” in contrast to a “heart monarchist”. The point is to keep power dispersed; we do it by having a House of Lords, a House of Commons and a Monarch. The French do it in other ways. The Americans in other still. To claim that one system is wonderful while another is appalling shows a lack of appreciation of the point about power.

          Let me add about gay marriage that I do not regard it as a huge issue, but I do regard it as a defining issue.

          • Linus

            Your “nation” (such as it is, and may still remain for a few months more) has just delivered a resounding victory to the man who gave you equal marriage.

            What an endorsement of his spectacular and, for the natural heir of Thatcherism, wholely unexpected (but very welcome) support of equality.

            All those homophobes on this site whose blind hatred of the LGBT community has been fooling them into predicting Cameron’s downfall must be feeling very foolish this morning. Indeed I’m surprised myself. Too much time spent talking to Christians and other swivel-eyed loons made me lose sight of the fact that the British electorate as a whole supports fairness and justice.

            Not only did voters not punish Cameron for equal marriage, they actually rewarded him with an outright victory!

            Sigh! Where was your imaginary god when you needed him? No electoral miracles for Ukip or other such marginal reactionaries. Did the man who comments here and who was standing as a candidate for the Christian Party win his seat? Did he even keep his deposit?

            After this result equal marriage is here to stay. It was anyway, of course. But with the political apotheosis of the man who gave it to you, and the fact that none of the serious losers oppose it, how will you get it repealed?

            Better start praying for Jayzuz to come down from on high in glory. Failing that, your options are limited.

          • Anton

            We are all told to do that in the Bible Linus. Can you imagine what universal just government will be like after centuries of corrupt government in even the best run lands? Yes, He will be back to this earth to rule it for a duration before the final separation.

            Old and New Testaments respectively show that the return of the Jews to their ancient land, and globalisation, are precursors, so it won’t be too long now. Who, 300 years ago, would have foreseen those things? Yet the Bible writers foresaw them 2000 years ago. When he comes, what laws will he enact and enforce?

          • Linus

            Cloud cuckoo laws for a cloud cuckoo land, no doubt.

            Paraphrasing previous comments from other sensible commenters here, free rainbow coloured ponies for all and for women, all the bedsheets they can wear. Men will have to be content with straggly grey beards and woolly blankets for overcoats, although one assumes that autocratic power over their wives and families will be some form of compensation for being so sartorially disadvantaged.

            You go ahead and lose yourself in the fantasies that all religionists indulge in when their dreams of world domination turn to dust. You can conjure up whatever you like in your head. But whatever it is, the reality that the British electorate has given a resounding endorsement to the prime minister who introduced equal marriage will not change.

          • Anton

            Opinion polls on that subject make it very clear that that is not why they endorsed him. As for the larger matter, time will tell but I am content for the Bible to tell ahead of time.

  • Old Blowers

    Lets hope everyone who knows who they should really vote for holds their nerve and votes for a better future and is not intimidated by the scare stories and emotional blackmail.

    Farage may have had a bit of a stinker but the main reason is NOT to give your vote to the sameold sameold, is it not?

    Fear not if the anointed government is not immediate, remember old Blowers is now working for the Civil Service and I will ensure a smooth operation until it’s all resolved. God, Queen and country!!

    Off over in a little while to cast my vote purple.

    Blowers

    • Inspector General

      Good show Blowers. Fine evening for a trip in your motorised bath chair, what!

      • Old Blowers

        Shall stop and flush it’s contents if I find any Marxist sorts loitering around the polling station!

        • Inspector General

          By the way, Blowers, you seem quite chipper these days. One had feared you’d moved into God’s waiting room, so to speak…

          • Lol …

            The reports of Blower’s have been greatly exaggerated – by the Inspector.

    • On your head be it, Blowers. Happy Jack has just voted for a party he knows has no chance of success rather than vote tactically to prevent SNP or Labour winning. In the end, he just couldn’t vote Conservative.

      • Old Blowers

        Lib Dem? Dear Lord help us from those who think they are wise but show the exact opposite.
        I ignored the pleas to vote Tory when Tories ignored that I was a real Tory rather than just a liberal one.
        Even heard lies from Sajid Javid (pakistani for I lie for a living) that Mrs T blessed him. Utter chancer if he thinks Thatcherites believe that twaddle.
        They had their chance and blew it by thinking they could scare us into voting for them on a fag packet manifesto.
        Old blowers handed out a blank cheque to them last time without knowing it…SSM, AV referendum, alter abortion code of conduct etc
        Never again lad.

    • not a machine

      I voted tactically in part because I feel my former MP didn’t quite convince me
      they weren’t lying.

  • not a machine

    Your grace offers some thought of the dangers of perdition worthy of pastoral consideration and some prayer .There is perhaps the other suggestion in Phillipians I think where god remembers your good if your are a slave to a bad master , for bad unto bad does not embody Christ .This is a most difficult thing as you perhaps can see how progressive can be determined to find god through complete knowledge , or at least say it is .
    I perhaps might ask Mr Tomlin as respected principal how he might consider what gods judgment may be for those who serve but knowingly deceive or pervert or who conduct power being deceived themselves . I don’t know if Tony Blair was elected to make us gluttonous naval gazing fools and a store for troubles , being as he was rather saintly , but why could we not pick apart the argument he never gave about what his party was doing ?

    • not a machine

      Just had a further thought I once met a Methodist vicar who told the political leaflet delivers , not to post any through his letter box (in firm manner) as he had absolutely no interest in politics if that isn’t another line of thought for Christians.

  • Wow!

    Exit poll:

    Con 316 (up 9!)

    Lab 239

    Liberal 10!

    SNP 58!

    UKIP 2

    Green 2

    Others 19

    • SNP 58/59 – Jack’s moving.

      • CliveM

        If SNP get 58, who is the 59th?

        • Inspector General

          Conservative. Border region

          • There are a number of constituencies covering the “Border region”, Inspector.

        • Probably David Mundell, Conservative in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

      • Hi happy Jack,

        They’ve won the seats, but another referendum with a yes vote ?

      • Dude

        The west country is a good place to live.

      • and you’d like where my sister lives as the local MPs gets the whip from Rome …. his words btw

  • Old Blowers

    His Nibs is quiet tonight..probably having to part compose several possible posts for tomorrow on varying outcome. The poor fellow.

  • SNP already stirring the sh*t, Jack notes. 50% of the popular vote (or thereabouts) and 90% of seats (give or take), in Alec Salmond’s mind, translates into a Conservative British Government having “no legitimacy” in Scotland.

    • Inspector General

      A joy to see the Liberal Degenerates being skinned alive, what!

      • Indeed … is making Happy Jack exuberant. And Labour is getting well and truly stuffed too.

        Looks like Conservative-DUP might be the next Government. Imagine future discussions on same sex ‘marriage’ and ‘equal rights’, what, what, what !

        A 20 year old girl, still at school, and in trousers, defeats Douglas Alexander … that’s not good.

        • CliveM

          Balls may be out!!!!!!!

  • carl jacobs

    The Liberal Democratic Party died in its sleep Thursday night after a prolonged illness. It was 27 years old. The Party is survived by its voter who said “In the end, [I] just couldn’t vote Conservative.” Services have not yet been announced.

    • CliveM

      He, he !!