This may come as a surprise to you, but later today I’ll be opening our Creston Town Council in prayer. I, along with fellow Creston Valley ministerial members, take turns doing this for our dedicated public servants, and it’s an honor.
Whenever I pray at council, I follow four guidelines.
- I assume a diverse audience. Respecting people present who either do not pray or hail from different religious traditions, I do not ask anyone to “join me in prayer” or “bow their heads.” Rather, I express my appreciation for their work and then state, quite simply, that I am thankful for the opportunity to pray for them as they serve our community.
- I don’t use insider or religious language. I keep it simple, honest and clear . . . and short!
- I ask God to give them wisdom and insight as they lead in our community and make decisions that affect us all.
- I close my prayer “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” In other words, I do not simply use the generic word “god” (which means, simultaneously, anything and almost nothing at all), but pray in the name of Jesus. I am a Christian and that’s how we pray.
But I do love praying at Town Council. Here’s four reasons why:
- Praying at town council is a clear way I can show honor to our civic leaders. These men and women work hard for our community, after-hours and for little pay, and they are worthy of our honor, thanks and prayer.
- Praying for our council members and mayor reminds them that we care, particularly as the church. Even for folks unfamiliar with it, prayer shows care.
- Praying for God to give our council wisdom and guidance has real effect, as we believe that God hears our prayers and will give them what they need to lead us well.
- Praying for our council members invites them, gently and humbly, to consider their leadership as an act of service to us and under God.
When I pray at Town Council, I represent Jesus and his church. In truth, we need to consistently pray for those in leadership. Not all of us get the opportunity to do so in the council chambers of a local government, but all of us can enter God’s chambers and pray on their behalf. God likes it when we do, as Paul wrote when mentoring Timothy:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
This is good and pleases God our Savior . . .
(1 Timothy 2:1-3 NLT)