Friday, May 10, 2013

Praying for Leaders

SCRIPTURE: 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: May 10th, 2013

"1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:1-4)

The recent Malaysian elections is supposed to be a watershed event. Like many, I too was disappointed with the results. With rising discontentment with the status quo, and the widespread accusations of deep corruption and rigged polls, the Rakyat (people) wants change. The Malaysian ruling party, in power since 1957, has seen their dominance shrink from majority to a small edge over the rest. On May 5th, even though the parliamentary seats are solidly in the hands of the ruling coalition, the popular votes tell a different story. It is the opposition coalition that has more votes. The existing government may have won the election, but they are increasingly losing the hearts of the people. What is worrying is that if their pledge for reforms are not put in place and implemented soon, the unhappiness and discontent will continue to grow. The Economist Newspaper calls the results a "Dangerous Result." Dangerous because the people are not convinced that the elections had been fair and democratic. Dangerous too because the way the government had won, reflects not just an ethnically biased voting trend, but a refusal of the government to move away from racial and religious politics. Despite the government's "One Malaysia" campaign, people just do not believe their words.

From my interactions with friends and loved ones, it seems like as far as the country is concerned, the people in general have grown away from racial politics. The government has not.  Worse, through the press, the government continues to instill threats and fears of the racially tense 60s into the new Millennium.  I wonder: Why can't these politicians grow up? I look at my Malay, Indian, and Chinese friends, I see more commonality than differences. All of us struggle to make a living, to give our families a good life, and to do our best in our communities. There are much bigger problems than skin colour.  For instance, poverty and injustice are some of our common enemies that we can all aim our guns at.

Still, I have mixed feelings about the results. On the one hand, the continuity of government does allow for the continuity of good programs so far. One example is the Iskandar project in the southern state of Johor. Foreign investors are glad. The economic sentiment remains bright. Life remains relatively more predictable as people will recognize the same style and same policies that they have pretty much gotten used to.

On the other hand, the results bring no sense of comfort to people clamouring for change. The government continues to lose popular support. The sense of suspicions of the government can only continue to rise. For many, the only hope for Malaysia is for a change of government.

I don't know. I am not sure if any new ruling coalition can better the current situation in the short term. After all, the people have not seen an alternative government for more than 50 years.  However, for the long term, I think it does not auger well for Malaysia. As long as the ruling government continues to adopt policies that are ethnically based, or religious discrimination, the long term is not promising. The idea of a "One People One Malaysia" remains just a slogan, nothing more.

For me as a Christian, one thing is clear. God is still in control even when we do not see it in the election results. We can still pray. We can still stand up for what is right. Hope is not lost.

Three Things How Christians Can Live?

On Prayer and Fasting
As responsible citizens, I suggest three things for Christians who care for Malaysia. First, Paul's advice to Timothy is clear. Pray for all people, for leaders, for kings and all in authority. Paul emphasizes "first of all," which is a priority phrase for believers to take not of and to put into practice. As a simple "prayer request," ask the Lord for wisdom for the leaders. Even though there are some leaders that I do not favour, I still have an obligation to pray for them. If God has allowed it, who am I to disallow it?

Secondly, pray without discrimination. Remember that all of us are members of the human race. We are all sinners. We are all guilty of hurting one another. Christ has not died only for any one particular race. He died for all. Do not let the party labels or the political symbols determine our allegiances. It is difficult to go away from racial matters when noticing the politics of Malaysia. We just have to keep praying that the day will come, where people will see beyond skin colour.

Thirdly, pray with a purpose in mind, that God will bring peace and harmony, for the people to live peaceful and quiet lives. For believers, this is especially important. We pray for an environment where we can continue to seek a path of holy and godly living. We pray for continued opportunities to share the gospel, and the be the light in a world of dark. We pray for discipleship in the Church that can flourish in times of peace and goodwill. Look carefully, we will know that there are greater things at stake. For us as Christians, the gospel is at  stake. We may be grieved about some election fraud or unjust results. We may even be flabbergasted at the arrogance and silly statements of certain politicians. Yet, the greater purpose is the centrality of the gospel, lived out in faith, hope, and love.

Hopefully, through our common prayer for people, all people will be touched by the love of God the Father. Through our non-discriminatory stance of prayer, we remind one another that Jesus makes no distinction between Jews or Gentiles, for He came to save all. Through our purpose, we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us toward all things, to bring glory to the Coming King!

Let me close with this prayer of Billy Graham, in his prayer for America. You can modify it for your country as you see fit.

Our Father and God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. 
We pray today for our nation's leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. 
You have said, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen

THOUGHT: "He that loveth little prayeth little, he that loveth much prayeth much." (Augustine)


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