Many Christians, who are also Americans, face a challenge on Inauguration Day 2021. On the one hand, we want to celebrate the transfer of authority. It is one aspect of our Republic that makes it unique. On the other hand, some Christians are filled with anxiety when an incoming president promises to implement policies opposed to their deeply held values.
As I have considered this over the past few weeks, a passage from the book of Matthew has returned to mind numerous times. In Matthew 26: 36-46, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with Peter, James, and John. He has asked them to watch and pray as he knows his arrest is imminent and a Roman crucifixion will be his fate.
It is indeed a stressful scene for Jesus as he is wrestling with what is to come. Numerous times he calls them to watch and to pray. Unfortunately, more often than not, he finds them sleeping.
What is Jesus asking them to do by watching and praying?
Let’s start with the latter. Praying to God should acknowledge dependence. In our prayers, we should give thanks for the many blessings and provisions God has given us. It is also when we are invited to express our perceived needs to a Father who loves us and enjoys providing for his children.
Prayer is also a place for confession. As we pray, we are to confess our sins, failures, and shortcomings. As we confess our sins, we should not only acknowledge them but seek God’s forgiveness. Our need for forgiveness reminds us that we are not an end unto ourselves. We have been created to be dependent.
No human being or institution led by human beings is intended to be self-sufficient. We have been created to be dependent upon God.
In prayer, we should ask God for wisdom, understanding, courage, and strength to faithfully persevere.
Jesus also called his disciples to watch. This was a call to alertness. It was a call to be prepared for action. In the Matthew 26 passage, we see the word sorrowful, and we learn Jesus was troubled. This doesn’t mean Jesus was panicked. It means he realized the gravity of the moment.
He wasn’t calling his disciples to cower in fear. When he called them to be watchful, he called them to be sober, vigilant, and ready to respond appropriately.
As a new administration is given the reigns of leadership, Christians would benefit from learning from Jesus and these disciples. They faced a challenging moment. Jesus met it with seriousness and prayer while the sleepy-headed disciples were caught off guard.
Christians are commanded to pray for government leaders, and they are called to be ambassadors for the values that matter to God. May we be found ready to watch and pray as a new American presidency begins.
BRANDON PORTER is editor of Kentucky Today and communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.