An Internship on Capitol Hill

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with American history. From the Revolutionary War to the present day, America has a rich history. So much of that history is determined by what happens in the United States Capitol. From moments of division, such as when Senator Sumner was viciously beaten with a cane by a congressman during the Civil War, to moments of great unity, like when the Senate unanimously voted to bring our nation’s enemies to justice after 9/11, our Capitol is a place of reverence. 

Despite being a place of political division, Capitol Hill can be a place for Christians to reflect Christ within the realm of their civic duty. I knew I would want to experience that up close, and an internship on the Hill would give me that chance. When I was accepted as a summer intern in the office of Senator Thom Tillis, I kept all of this in mind. I will describe what that experience was like and key takeaways from it.

For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility…for through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. – Ephesians 2:14,18

Understand Your Civic Responsibilities

Generally speaking, an internship on the Hill entails being a helping hand in the office of the elected official you are working for. This is not limited to answering thousands of phone calls from constituents, attending meetings, giving capitol tours, conducting legislative research, and writing memos or constituent correspondences for the representative and their staff. Because you are granted a staff ID, minus a few exceptions, you are allowed access anywhere in the Capitol building. Because there are hundreds of lawmakers, each office’s internship program is different. Some offices keep their interns in the office, while others allow their interns to explore the Capitol, and, more or less, make the internship what they want. Thankfully, my office was the latter.

Answering phones from constituents is a staple of interning on the Hill. For me, this entailed listening to concerns or suggestions and writing those concerns down to be viewed by Senator Tillis. Sometimes, people would call about serious policy proposals. Other times, people would call angry about a policy stance that the senator had taken, or people called just to have someone to talk to. I never minded answering the phones, and because we had five interns and a relatively low call volume, I only had a few hours of scheduled phone time per week. I also wrote memos for the staff on anything from policy issues to recent news. An amusing moment for me was knowing that I wrote a memo on Mt. Olives Pickle company that was used to brief Senator Tills before his visit. 

One great thing was my office was lenient with where I was, so I was able to go almost wherever I wanted if I was accounted for and finished my work. I used this time to attend as many committee meetings as possible. These meetings are small gatherings between senators that oversee specific issue areas. I discovered if I walked into those meetings, not looking like the stereotypical, lost, intern, people would not question my attendance, and I could finagle my way in. I attended meetings on issues such as DACA and immigration to issues in the Supreme Court. I was able to see senators such as Ben Sasse, Amy Klobuchar, Ted Cruz, and Jon Ossoff. 

My relationship with Senator Tillis was great. Senator Tillis had seen dozens of intern classes come through his office, but nevertheless, he was extremely personable and took time to talk to us interns whenever he was around. Senator Tillis knew our names and facts about us, which was admirable for a person as busy as he is. A highlight of my time on the Hill is when the Senator came into our intern room and decided just to sit down and talk. For a good forty minutes, the Senator chatted and answered questions from the interns, like he was talking to friends.

My favorite moment of the internship was when I had the opportunity to go on the Senate floor and watch the senators vote. Generally, the floor is restricted to the senators, a select number of staff, and Capitol Police. For traditional office staff to be allowed on the floor, a senator would have to request those privileges from the presiding officer from the floor. With our internship winding down, Senator Tillis asked the interns if we would like to be on the floor while the senators voted. I could not have said yes fast enough. An hour later, we watched Senator Tillis request our floor privileges by name from the Senate floor on C-SPAN. It was an amazing moment, and our Press Secretary found the clip and sent it to us, which I was able to share with my parents. Being on the floor was incredible. We witnessed an argument between the senators on an amendment that seemed straight out of the movies. One by one, we saw the senators come into the chamber and vote on the bill. It was an unforgettable experience and one I will cherish.

Realize Your Influence

As exciting as things were when the Senate was in session, out of session (when the senators went back to their States) things slowed down. I did more office work during this time, such as adding contacts to our database, answering phones, sorting mail, and helping the staff out where they needed it. Gone were the suit and tie, and in came business casual clothing. It was strange to be around senators flocked by the press corps one week to not seeing any lawmakers the next. Nonetheless, I am appreciative of where I was and the privilege I had working at the Capitol. Even during the times when the task I was working on did not seem all that important, I was motivated by one of my favorite Bible verses, Luke 16:10.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. – Luke 16:1

Interning with Senator Tillis was a fantastic experience that created lifelong memories. It was awesome to see the government in action, learn more about how it functions, and meet so many wonderful people. I would highly recommend interning on the Hill for anyone interested in politics and government, and it can be a unique experience to intertwine your faith with politics.

Challenging Godless Prayers: Facing Difficult Questions about Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2

I remember growing up in the church and singing a song about spiritual growth in pre-k. “Read your bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow,” we would sing while jumping to illustrate how much we were growing. But somewhere between pre-k and college, I seemed to forget the words. Spiritual growth took a backseat when new goals entered the scene. Suddenly, I stopped worrying about the development of my faith and started caring more about trivial, worldly things that cannot measure up. The worst part is I didn’t even realize what I was doing. If I am still familiar with Christ, still going to church, and still praying before bed at night, I’m fine, right? This was the lie I was telling myself, and it took a whole pandemic to snap me out of it. 

During the pandemic churches closed, striking out one of my sources of feel-good Christianity. Then, I realized that my nightly prayers felt empty; there was no difference between talking to God or talking to my pillow, and with a global crisis on the horizon, I really needed sovereign advice. It was easy to find a Bible reading program, and church was available online, but my individual communication with God was desperately lacking. So, for the first time in a long time, I started talking to God with great intention. It was only through total engagement in authentic, unbiased submission in prayer that I realized the sanctity of speaking to the Lord at all. Prayer is our most useful tool in identifying the voice of the Father because it is our way of holy communication. I came to understand that the vital step in reviving my spiritual growth was to change the way I looked at prayer. However, this decision was easier in theory as I had no idea how to pray when I wasn’t explicitly asking the Lord for blessings or thanking Him for the ones He had already bestowed. I found that I was leaving my prayers with as many questions as answers. It is for this reason that I have decided to share my prayer journey and present the questions I have wrestled with and the best responses I have found.

 

What even is prayer?

The first question I asked myself was: What is prayer and why is it important?

Prayer is an intimate and individualized act of worship that creates a pathway for us to speak to our Father in heaven. Yet, so often, prayer is underestimated and derives certain connotations of order and chore. However, there is no formula for prayer; it is free communication with God. Like everyone, the more you speak to God, the more familiar with Him you become. Once I began to prioritize prayer, I began to see God’s hand more, and I began to recognize Him in other people. 

 

How can I pray when I cannot pray for what I want?

Maybe your friend has an interview for a job in another state, but you want them to stay close by. It feels wrong to pray that your friend won’t get the job, but truthfully, that is what you want. Whether it’s this example, or something far larger, there are times when praying for a specific thing feels uncomfortable because it is not in accordance with God’s will. So, how do we pray about this? First, it is important to recognize that no prayer is strong enough to overrule the will of God. If God has made up His mind, our prayers cannot change it. Therefore, we can ask God to grant us peace with the outcome of our situation, and we can ask Him to appease whatever caused the desire in the first place. For example, why is it so important that our hypothetical friend stays close by rather than moving for work? Perhaps, it is because this friend serves as a source of comfort and companionship to us. Therefore, we can ask God to show us comfort and opportunity for more fellowship in our lives. It is also important to remember that our prayers are not going to offend God. If we inquire of Him, He will not reject us even if He rejects our plans. 

 

What do I do when I’m afraid of how He will answer my prayers? What if I fear what his answer will entail?

There have only been two instances in my life where I have prayed a “do whatever it takes” prayer, a prayer where I am begging God to go to any lengths to answer my cries. Most of the time our prayers are “do whatever it takes, but..”, but don’t touch my family, but don’t take my health, do whatever it takes but let me keep this one thing. But when we finally get desperate enough to pray a “whatever it takes” prayer, we can finally release control and trust fully in the power of God. God does not work according to our agenda, and He is not going to act with conditions. God provides us entirely unconditional love, and we return heavily conditional trust and call it faith. Our greatest prayers are answered when we stop trying to fit God’s plan into our own. God can work despite us, but the most miraculous events occur when we trust Him to work for us, taking our place in the battle rather than sharing the battlefield. 

 

What do I do when I am too close to a situation to pray about it at all?

This is the question that I struggled the most with. A few years ago I got sick, and it was the time in my life where I needed prayers the most. I had an entire support system of family, friends, and doctors praying for me, and yet I could not pray for myself. I didn’t have the words nor the courage. I was so consumed by my own situation that I could not face praying to a god that knew the situation even better than I did. I was faced with the challenge of how to pray when all prayer seemed lost on me. The answer I found was community. The team of family and friends praying on my behalf became my voice of prayer while I was still trying to find it. In addition, I had to keep stepping up to the throne, even if I could not address God. I made the effort, I tried to pray regardless of my feelings, and God saw. He heard the words I could not speak.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. – Romans 8:26

In 1 Samuel chapter one, a woman named Hannah is heartbroken because she is barren. She desired to have a baby more than anything in the world, and her desire was so real it consumed her, and she could not form the words to ask the Lord for a child. The bible tells us that Hannah was praying in her heart even when she could not pray with her mouth. However, God heard her wordless cries and answered her. She went on to give birth to Samuel and she dedicated his life to Christ. 

Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. – 1 Samuel 1:13

Perhaps, Hannah could not pray for a baby because it was too important to her. If she didn’t ask God, she wouldn’t get a solidified, no, and she could go on hoping. However, in her heart, she submitted to the Lord and reaped the benefits of her faith. 

When we too cannot pray, whether because we are experiencing spiritual drought or because we are too consumed by a situation to bring it to God at all, we must push forth and show up for our Lord in the best way we can manage. 

 

What do I do when I cannot find God in prayer?

Even having this information and coming as far as I have, I am still guilty of offering empty prayers to the Lord. I now admit to the Lord that I am not engaged fully in the prayer and ask for His forgiveness. I then refrain from asking Him for blessings, but rather dedicate that time to praise and thanksgiving. Prayer is not a tool that helps us unlock secret blessings, it is a way to speak to our Creator and become more familiar with who He is. Throughout this process, we consequently learn more about ourselves as His children, how to treat ourselves, and how to love others as well. Prayer is how we foster relationships and effectively love those around us. There is no purer form of love than praying for someone, asking God to provide his unfailing love where ours falters. 

Another tool I have found in prayer is that we must be willing to step out for the Lord and follow up our prayers with action. If you pray for cold weather, buy a jacket and prepare. If you ask God to give you courage, do something courageous. Even if it feels forced, God sees our efforts and acknowledges our trust. He wants to watch us be bold in His name. Prayer is submission and how we tell the Lord that we trust His plan more than our own, and we must confirm that trust by stepping out.  

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. – Mark 11:24

When I first began praying more intimately, my prayers felt like ice leaving my mouth. Everything was very uncomfortable because, for the first time, it was real. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew God was listening and eager for me to engage in real, honest prayer in the way that felt most natural for me and my heavenly Father. There is no cookie-cutter prayer or sequence of words that pleases the Lord more than any other prayer. Prayer isn’t a script or monologue, and there is no study guide or key. Prayer is meant to be a unique and beautiful experience that embodies the individual connection between God and His children who are equally unique. To grow in prayer, to grow spiritually at all, takes effort. It takes stepping out and making the first move, but that first move does not have to be extraordinary and monumental. A small baby step for God will be more life-changing than a leap in the opposite direction because God sees that we are giving Him authority over our lives and He uses that authority to accomplish grand things. Maybe this first step is praying with a friend and being vulnerable. Maybe it is purchasing a prayer book to use as a tool.  Or maybe it is a simple prayer of confession in a true form. Prayer is the most natural and effective tool at our disposal and it is vital to whatever our step for the Lord may be. 

 

Documenting my thoughts about prayer, I cannot imagine a better way to conclude than to practice with other believers, so here is my prayer for you:

Father God, I ask that you be with each individual reading this piece now. Grant them wisdom and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit so that you may be seen and admired by your children. Lord, please start a revival of prayer in each of their hearts. Hear their prayers and answer their cries, Father. Amen. 

Episode 14// Why does the Equality Act matter?

Currently, the Equality Act is a hot topic as the chambers of Congress are reviewing and voting on whether to pass the bill. In this Q&A session, Anna Claire and Renee discuss why this Act is vital to Republicans and Democrats, and hope that through this, listeners can decide which parts of the bill they support, as well as finding a balance between acceptance and freedom to disagree. Although the Equality Act is being widely discussed now, different versions of the bill have been introduced several times in Congress and were even passed in the House of Representatives in 2019. However, the ruling of Bostock v. Clayton County in June of 2020, has changed many people’s perspectives on the Equality Act. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the protections guaranteed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also extended to discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. In February of 2021, the Equality Act was passed through the House of Representatives and is currently waiting to be voted on in the Senate, where the chance of a filibuster is highly likely. 

 

The Equality Act is founded on the 1964 Civil Rights Act which stipulates all people shall not face discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Equality Act would include adding the phrase, “sexual orinetation or gender identity” after the word “sex”. Democrats argue that anyone in the LGBTQ+ community should have equal rights as heterosexual and cisgender people. By passing the Equality Act, discrimination in places such as resturaunts, senior centers, stores, health care facilities, and government office would be ilegal. Forms of discrimination include denial of entry, unequal or unfair treatment, harassment, and violence.

 

On the other side, the Republican party disagrees with legally making preferred sexual orientation the same as biological sex. Republicans argue sexual orientation should not be protected by the law, because it conflicts the right to freedom of religion. If the Equality Act is passed, doctors will be forced to perform gender transformation surgeries, even if it is against their religion. It would also require public and private schools to teach students about the LGBTQ+ community. This has led to concerns about citizens being held to a law that requires them to go against their religion. 

 

Though the Equality Act can appear daunting and complex, it is important to let listeners decide which aspects of the Act they agree and disagree with. Tune into Episode 14 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts to hear the whole conversation. If you’re a fan, please rate the podcast, and leave a review!

 

More resources to further understand the Equality Act:

 

“The Equality Act: How Could Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws Affect You?” by Heritage Foundation (Conservative)

https://www.heritage.org/gender/heritage-explains/the-equality-act 

 

“Commentary: The Equality Act and how it could affect churches, religious organizations” by John Litzler (Conservative) 

https://www.baptiststandard.com/opinion/other-opinions/commentary-the-equality-act-and-how-it-could-affect-churches-religious-organizations/

 

“The Equality Act” by Human Rights Campaign (Progressive)

https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-equality-act 

 

Video: “The Federal Fairness for All Act” by AND Campaign

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW0rPHHoZLM 

 

“The End of Women’s Sports” by Selina Soule

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BuV-s1SYLk 

 

The Great Commission: Our Greatest Mission

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. –
Matthew 28: 19-20

The Lord answers prayers in the most curious ways as was recently shown me as I found myself having a philosophical debate with a stranger at two in the morning.

After making a small comment about God, this stranger told me that he was agnostic, if not atheist, and I could imagine the Lord laughing at me up in heaven. This was what I had been praying for, so I took full advantage of my new friend’s openness and asked as many questions as I could think.

My intentions with my research and this conversation as a whole were to grasp a deeper understanding of agnostic and atheist beliefs, so that I could be prepared to minister to a non-believer in the future or help somebody else do the same.

As Christians, we are called to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt.28:19-20). It is the epitome of the instructions the Lord gave to us and our primary duty while on earth. However, too often we confine ourselves to make disciples of our own nation, limiting ourselves to the small circle of Christianity with which we are familiar. While this is certainly not the case for all believers, it has become a consistent issue among far too many, including myself.

Growing up in the Bible Belt of the south, attending a Christian school, and visiting church biweekly, I have always been surrounded by like-minded believers. My exposure to those who openly refuse the Gospel, or who are unaware of Christ, has been limited at best and is practically non-existent. While I have always seen this as a blessing, a fortress sheltering me from the corruption of a godless world, the Lord has recently opened my eyes and shown me that my shelter is less of a shade tree and more of a storm cellar, keeping me ignorant of the world around me and leaving me with a heavy question. How can I introduce people to God if I only discuss Him with those who are already familiar with the gospel?

The honest answer to this question is that there is no answer. I cannot speak Truth to non-believers by speaking truth to my small circle of believers because my circle will only continue to dwindle. However, I have recently learned that the more willing to listen, I become the more willing I am to speak about God becomes. He has recently presented me with countless opportunities to examine the philosophies of non-believers to prepare myself to minister in the future.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

It is for this reason that I jumped head first into research about atheism, looking to understand all outlets of unbelief.

The most consistent issue with Christian faith that I have come across in my readings is the idea of a Christian superiority complex that is rooted in pride. I discovered several reddit threads saying that Christianity was selfish and looked down on non-believers. There were comments such as the issue with Christianity is “claiming humility while bragging that you’re in telepathic communication with the creator of the universe” or saying that Christians thank God when tragedy strikes someone else because, as a result, they escape it themselves (Reddit).

Being raised in the Christian mindset, I am unable to respond objectively to these comments, so I asked this agnostic stranger for his opinion on my findings. This friend told me that the pride issue goes both ways, and is not necessarily tied to Christianity itself, but rather religion as a whole. He said that Christian pride is less of an “I am better than you” mindset and more along the lines of “I feel bad for you because you do not share my faith”.

This approach not only emphasizes the separation of religious and non-religious individuals, but actually encourages the segregation by belittling the non-believer into a place where they are even less willing to explore faith. On the other end of the spectrum, the non-believers are suffering from a pride issue as well. My agnostic friend presented it to me in this way: when you do not believe in a higher power, you are the highest power in your own life. Therefore, when it is illuminated that there is a greater being, it is like saying that you, the non-believer, are lesser. Since no one enjoys being demoted, this is a hard pill to swallow. Furthermore, the entirety of their belief system would be changed, and the foundation they had paved for themselves would crumble under the weight of faith. This is enough to make a person want to reject the Gospel, especially partnered with the idea that their actions may be in direct opposition to what is right according to the Word.

Due to these factors, effectively communicating among mixed beliefs becomes even more difficult. To confess an unwanted opinion to any individual of any belief, the ideas must be introduced delicately, with gentleness and respect, as 1 Peter says, especially when the belief carries as heavy a significance as eternal salvation. From my research, I have deduced three fatal flaws in the process of sharing our faith.

Pride Corrupts Perception

The first is the idea of pride: being prideful and believing in self-righteousness directly translates to looking down on someone in disagreement. Going into any conversation with preconceived ideas of another person’s character based on their beliefs is a sure-fire way to deteriorate the discussion before it even begins. Instead, what we must do is pray and ask God that we are gentle and considerate in our words, and we must also establish a level of respect as the base layer of the relationship.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:6

For example, if you were to meet an agnostic believer and wanted to commit to a conversation about the Lord, it would be appropriate to first acknowledge to yourself that you are not God and cannot change the hearts of men. What you can do, however, is be His voice for a moment and speak His unbiased truth, evading incorporating your own. After all, Christ died for all people, not just those who believe; God loves His children even if they do not love Him in return. Furthermore, it is easy for pride to cloud our judgment and make us question why an individual would be hesitant to accept faith at all. We often assume they are either ignorant of the Truth and will convert by purely hearing the good news, or that they have evil in their hearts and therefore refuse the Gospel. Having these initial thoughts of ignorance or corruption further fuel religious pride and make it that much more difficult to effectively communicate God’s word.

Forced Faith is not True Belief

The second flaw is that of forcing one’s spirituality onto someone else. Real, unfiltered faith is a personal and intimate concept. It cannot be transferred by force, but rather accepted by diligence and thorough teachings. I do confess that sometimes repetition can be effective in bringing an individual into a church, but when presenting the idea of faith to someone who is unfamiliar, hounding only turns them off more. Rather, we ought to lay out the facts and theology of Christ and pray that the individual comes to accept faith in their own time. The key to this process is to find common ground with the non-believer to ignite a spark that can lead to a flame of faith. This is easier said than done and may seem virtually impossible because as Christians we are taught that our identity is in Christ as we die to Him.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Since we find our identity in God, how are we supposed to find commonalities with the godless? This is where personal preference comes in: yes, we are part of the body of Christ, but God did make us all unique from each other with different gifts and tastes. Despite the fundamental differences in spirit, there are surface level agreements that can be shared. Plus, going a step further, there may be a common agreement in believing in good and evil, even if the non-believer does not state it to be of, or not of, God. Once we find common ground, we can convey our opposing views in a manner that communicates safety and comfort.

There is No Cookie-Cutter Christian

The third issue with miscommunicated disciple-making is the divide between religion and spirituality because they are often confined into a single thought despite being radically different. Speaking to my agnostic friend about church, I discovered that he has learned by example. So what happens when the portrayed examples show the worst part of the church? The idea that you have to verbally confess your sins to a priest or the thought of a checklist of Christian values to mark off, cannot embody the grandiosity to faith itself. This idea of tasks to gain glory is not limited to Christianity, and in fact, is actually excluded by Christianity alone. Christianity is the only religion in which you are born into grace, and do not have to earn your position, as Philippians 3:20 quotes, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”. However, the Word is often taken out of context, and creates the illusion of moral high ground. Since the Church is made up of people and people are sinners, it is easy for corruption to enter into a place of sanctity and discourage true peace among opposition. Therefore, it would be easy for someone who is unfamiliar with the Bible to view salvation as something that is granted to the “most holy” or most godlike people.

Christian faith is believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on a cross to save us from paying the price of our sins. Religion is a way to categorize that faith and to make it fit certain preferences. For example, I grew up in the Church of Christ and there was never an instrument played in the church; however, I am now Baptist and love to worship with a guitar. This does not mean that I changed my core beliefs or that one of these denominations is wrong. Religion is important and church is vital, but real belief must be at the center of it all. We must truly commit to God Himself rather than how we think we ought to praise to Him. The idea of religion can be overwhelming and exclusive to non-believers, which is the opposite of how God calls us to be.

While the barriers between faith and disbelief cast a daunting shadow on disciple making, we are not left hopeless and we can still press on to share the good news among all nations. The Great Commission is our greatest mission. We must take action, bearing in mind that true faith takes practice and patience because our relationship with the Lord is a real relationship and will suffer if it is not tended to. Atheists are not in communication with the Lord, so they neglect their relationship and it consequently suffers. As said in James 2:3, “You do not have because you do not ask God”, we must keep this verse on our hearts as we attempt to do the work of God and bring others to Him. Using prayer and Scripture, fervently working on our own faith, we will be successful in our missions to go and make disciples of all nations.

Works cited
“r/Atheism.” Reddit, www.reddit.com/r/atheism/.
Holy Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2005.

Praying Together During Inauguration Week

We all thought 2021 would hold promise for better days after a year marked by fear and aggression, but it has already failed to be the “hope” for which the world longs. After a couple of jaw-dropping weeks, Inauguration Day is upon us. Sadly, the 2020 election left even Christians, our families, and our churches more divided than ever before. Even for those whose preferred candidate won, many Christians can look back and acknowledge great distraction and misplaced loyalty. Going forward, let us turn away from our sin that causes us to place winning over loving our brothers and sisters. One thing I am noticing is that watching or reading news updates makes me long for Heaven even more, so I know that the current political climate opens an opportunity to share the real hope of Christ. In order to display our hope in Jesus, and not the false hope in this world, let us pray together and allow God to soften and reset our hardened hearts with reminders of His authority, love, and trustworthiness.

Scripture holds counsel for every situation! The instructions for believers in Ephesians 6:10-18 remind us 1) who our enemy is, 2) where our strength lies, and 3) why prayer is essential to church unity.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesian 6:10-18

Father, it seems your people can never see eye to eye on issues in the public sphere. Help us unite around what is most important and true– your name and your mighty power. My flesh desires to be right and to win, and even my best intentions to stand up for righteousness and condemn evil can be twisted, resulting in seeing my brothers and sisters as enemies or less-than-human. Condemnation, division, and violence is not what you want, but it fits perfectly into “the devil’s schemes.” I plead that we would keep our eyes on the real battle, which is not of this world.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:13-17

You, Lord Jesus, provide all I need to engage in the spiritual battle happening around me. You know the pain and evil that this world holds. You lived here and felt every emotion and challenge I feel, yet you responded without sin. Instill in me your Word and help me stay tethered to it. You have declared me righteous through your Son’s blood. Teach me to daily accept your gift of salvation and live in freedom rather than condemnation. Fit me for opportunities to serve, love, and tell of your goodness, moved by the urgency of your gospel. Secure my faith, may it become the shield in which I trust rather than the false refuge of a political party or social movement. Help me identify flaming arrows disguised as distractions. With the helmet of salvation mark me as uniquely yours because at the moment you saved me, I was born again into your family (2 Corinthians 5:17). Teach me how to use the sword of the Spirit by revealing to me specific pieces of Scripture that contradict what the world is telling me.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:18

Keep me close to you in prayer. Motivate me to establish rhythms of prayer that replace rhythms of turning to social media for answers. In you I find true peace, perspective, and purpose. Unify the Church around what matters most: our faith in you. Then move us to pray and work on behalf of brothers and sisters. Keep me alert not only to the needs of people within my country, but especially brothers and sisters around the world, who you know are suffering persecution. Thank you for softening my heart towards others through your love, even those with whom I disagree. May I have a selfless posture of prayer rather than a defensive stance of pride.

When the fallen world acts, well, fallen, we as Christians can step into the raging unseen battle through prayer. Only a relationship with Christ can transform us into people who are overflowing with hope and respect for others. The stark contrast between popular behavior and the example of Jesus, offers an opportunity for believers to stand out, so let us start with prayer and practice following Christ’s radical example during this inauguration week.