Praying for our newly-elected president

Since our recent presidential election, I’ve often thought of my deceased grandfather and an important lesson he modeled.  My maternal grandfather, Sidney Plott, taught me to pray for our president.

In all of my years of memory, from President Dwight Eisenhower to the end of George H.W. Bush’s term, he always prayed for the president. At every meal, he sincerely asked God’s blessings and guidance on “Our President.” It didn’t matter who occupied the White House, “Grandpa Sid” believed Scripture mandated prayer and respect (Romans 13:1), and he faithfully prayed it until the very day of his death.

Although in the 2008 election I didn’t vote for Barak Obama, he will be my president. I do not need to explain or apologize for my vote for his opponent, John McCain.

All that matters is the present. The American people have spoken, and we’ve elected a president. He is my president, and I’ll give him my prayers, best wishes and support. This doesn’t mean I’ll agree with all of his decisions, but it signifies that I’ll show him the respect due to the person who occupies our nation’s highest office.

In the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of traveling in Africa, Asia, Europe and Central America. On each trip, I’ve realized with gratitude the many blessings we Americans enjoy. Anyone who has traveled this Earth knows what a blessed nation we are.

However, I’ve often heard the scorn many residents of the world feel for our nation and its leaders. I’ve found this statement to be true: “The world dislikes America, but it likes Americans.”

I’ve always personally been treated with respect in foreign places – even in countries with divergent political and religious views from ours. Even so, my new friends have been quick to question and criticize our government.

I’ve tried to listen carefully, because every criticism gave me a chance to learn. When I could, I’ve tried to explain or expand.  However, if I could be with those friends now, I’d say, “Watch us. We’ll show you the American way to change governments.”

In these travels, I’ve read the varied history of the countries and continents. In most places, regime changes have been bloody and full of retaliation. I’ve just finished a book, “The Fate of Africa,” that details the post-colonial history of this continent I’ve come to love. It contains tale after tale of violence, oppression and military coups.

But that’s not how we do it in the United States of America.

A small News item from Nov. 5 illustrates this.

At 6 a.m. on the morning after our election, the Secret Service ended their protection of John McCain. Later that day, he and his wife Cindy drove home, without bodyguards or chauffeurs. Notice this – John McCain drove himself home. He once again became citizen McCain.

This wouldn’t happen in most areas of the world. The loser of an election often also loses their freedom, if not their life. But that’s not the American way.

President-elect Obama and his wife Michelle visited the White House not long after the election, and President Bush and his wife Laura greeted them. All four of them exhibited dignity and class. It was symbolic of the peaceful transfer of power that is emblematic of our country. These two leaders, in spite of their past differences, were extremely gracious and helpful to each other in a transition of power befitting the United States of America.

I’m not sure what we should expect in our country’s coming days. In my lifetime, there’s never been more uncertainty as challenges confront us at home and abroad. But there is one thing I know: We are Americans, and we’ll get through this time together.  However, we move forward confidently knowing that God – as He always has been – is in control. Our job is pretty simple: Pray for our leaders and government to make good decisions.

Copyright 2008, SBC, Baptist Press, www.BPNews.net.

Curt Iles :