A Governor Holds a Prayer Meeting

Recently a nationally known governor held a prayer rally. It stirred up all sorts of public discussion, not all of it edifying or encouraging. Centuries ago there was another nationally known governor who held a prayer rally of sorts. His name was Nehemiah. It was a pretty impressive meeting. It was led by Ezra the scribe and priest, and started with a reading of Scripture (the Jewish Law), which was followed by some pretty serious feasting (see the story in Nehemiah 8- http://biblia.com/bible/godsword/Ne8.1-18).

While reading they discovered other celebrations (not parties) they were to observe. Then the mood changed to somberness as the leaders and people made a national confession–they acknowledged their failure as a nation. The prayer recorded in Nehemiah 9 (http://biblia.com/bible/godsword/Ne9) is a great model for any nation having a godly heritage–such as the USA, for example. Just for the record, all of this national contrition and turning to God didn't go over well with other people in the area, but that's another story.

The state governor mentioned at first is nationally known because he's a possible presidential candidate. His prayer rally was well attended, but of course, critics pointed out who was not there. Although a potential candidate, I appreciate the commitment to public prayer before making a decision. Yes, it could be a political ploy or litmus test, but I'll put the best construction on it. There seems to be a genuine sincerity to it all. He seems to have genuine character, as well.

What would really impress me is if he said "no" to running because he didn't have God's confirmation. That's the type of character needed in all arenas, public and private. We may never really know one way or the other, since it's pretty hard to be certain about these things from a distance (as the public). However, if there is a willingness to acknowledge God, along with any short-comings, and be honest about it, that would indeed be impressive. I'm not naive. The public arena is a tough environment, especially for those professing Christianity and honorable morality. But the issue is character, not expediency.

I know the rhetoric in our nation centers mostly about the economy and certain political values a person holds. But the real issue ought to be about character. We need jobs, but we need integrity of character more. I think the jobs would follow. There are several places in Proverbs and the Psalms speaking of leaders (particularly kings) having godly character. It doesn't mean they go around praying all the time, while looking spiritual. It means they lead by example. Not just the action of example, but the example of integrity–integrity of character.

Just exactly what is integrity of character? As I used to say to my children, "look it up in the dictionary!" But here are a few synomyms– incorruptible, honest and fair, decency, incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted. Should it really need to be defined?! Only if it's unusual or uncommon. The problem with having integrity is that it will cost you. There has to be a willingness to not only do what's right, but admit it when we're wrong. I've had to learn that lesson many times as a husband and dad, as well as in my roles as pastor and missionary!

We need change in these United States–in this entire world for that matter. It won't come from a government, nor a person in government. It won't come from any program or organization. It will only come as we change individually and collectively. Yeah, sounds naive, I know. But it's happened before and it usually is costly to those who stand for change with real integrity. It's easy to look to others, whether for blame or hope, but it needs to begin with each person. Integrity–in the workplace, the church, the public arena, the neighborhood, the home. When there is integrity in these places, there will be genuine change.