OVER the next few months, citizens in the United States and in other nations will be going to the polls in order to elect leaders at many different levels of government. Such choices are not always easy to make. Cynicism, confusion, and frustration are just some of the factors that may cloud our thoughts as we think about choosing government leaders.
Yet prayer for our government--whether we live in Brazil, the United States, Germany, or Japan--is vital. The author of the first letter to Timothy, in the New Testament, specifically says, ``I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty'' (2:1, 2).
Prayer based on these Biblical qualities of godliness and honesty helps us to choose our leaders wisely. A prime example of such qualities was Christ Jesus, whose honesty was uncompromising--as, for example, when he whipped the moneychangers out of the temple (see Matthew 21:12, 13). His ability to heal, his unshakable confidence in God, and his willingness to forgive certainly illustrate a profound ability to love and to express godliness.
As we think about choosing among candidates, we can look specifically for such elements as we ask: Is this someone who is devoted to healing the wounds in society, to restoring broken connections in the community, to helping people to prosper through good, life-affirming activities?
What does the individual feel is important for society, for our nation, and the world? What qualities does the candidate express that will help society to find more than superficial answers? Is he or she loving, good, intelligent, and willing to behave with integrity? Such spiritual qualities will help us to find common ground. And to the degree that he or she strives to take a loving approach to individuals at all levels of the society, the candidate is expressing godliness and honesty even if he or she wouldn't use those particular terms.
There is also another, and more immediate, way we can contribute to the goodness and honesty of our communities and nations. That is to express these spiritual qualities ourselves. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, brings this out in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ``God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love'' (p. 106).
Such self-government helps us to avoid any tendency to indulge in hatred toward certain political candidates or parties or to be manipulated by hateful campaign advertisements and literature. Instead we can prayerfully turn to God, to Truth and Love, for direction in our thinking about the elections and also about the candidates. This doesn't mean we need to accept wrong behavior or overlook mistakes. But we can be charitable and intelligent simultaneously!
As we are able to depend on God's all-good power, we gain a higher moral framework for our evaluation of government and elections. And to the degree that we let divine goodness direct our individual lives, and affirm it to be active in our nation and the world, we can trust it to rule our leaders and governments as well.
Such goodness is not merely being ``nice''; rather, this goodness has a spiritual basis--one that was revealed by Christ Jesus' example. It rests on an understanding that man is, in the final analysis, spiritual and unbreakably linked with his Maker.
To reach this point requires work and a significant commitment to Truth and Love on all levels. But we can start right now in our work of building our government on godliness and honesty, trusting that our divine Father, Truth and Love, is working with us.