Give the king your justice, O God … May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.. —Psalm 72:1-4
I have a post-it note on the inside cover of my Bible with a list of the people I have promised to pray for and/or whom I want to pray for regularly. It’s got all the usual suspects on it: family members and my godchildren, but also neighbors who I know are struggling, girls on my softball team, spiritual direction clients, etc. At some point along the way, I added the name of our president.
I have now prayed regularly for three U.S. presidents, whether I particularly like them and their policies or not. I try not to pray for them as some people pray for their favorite sports team, “Please, God, let them win!” Instead, I pray that God will give them what they need to govern us well. I admit that I am often at a complete loss for what they need, but that’s okay because God knows what it is.
Today’s psalm strikes me as a perfect prayer for a president. It reminds me that what God desires in our leaders is not wielding power in a way that terrorizes and oppresses people while amassing riches for a small minority. God wants leaders who defend the poor and oppressed of the land and share the bounty of the land’s resources with all.
That’s what the Jews were longing for in a leader when one of them wrote this psalm. Jesus would have even prayed this psalm himself, probably thinking of leaders in his world who were terrible examples of it. I’m sure he found a way to pray for them, even in his disapproval of the ways they were ruling. If he could have done that, I want to be able to as well.
For Prayer: Whether you like and approve of them or not, bring your government leaders (town, state, country) to mind now, and spend a few minutes praying for them in light of this reading.