There has been little that former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and I have agreed on when it comes to politics. He has led a party that continues to support abortion on demand, booed God at their national convention and undermined the will of the voters in 30-plus states – including Missouri – as the Democrats supported same-sex “marriage” by judicial fiat. However, we agree on one important issue: the power prayer.
It was a blessing to be among the more than 600 people attending Nixon’s final Governor’s Prayer Breakfast Jan. 5 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. The importance of prayer in the lives of Nixon and Governor-elect Eric Greitens was the focal point of their remarks. Both men shared personal stories about how prayer has impacted their lives – as one departs as governor and the other arrives.
Nixon went first: “As I near the end of my second term, I’ve often been asked what things I’ll remember most about my eight years being governor for 6.2 million Missourians,” he told the crowd. “And the answer I frequently give is how I’ve been impressed that the people of Missouri genuinely want their leaders to do well. I wish I could go through the thousands of times that I’ve been going through crowds or at an event or wherever — and people stop and they shake your hand and they look you right in the eye. And they say, ‘Governor, I’m praying for you.’”
This is what Christians ought to be doing for those in authority, as 1 Tim. 2:1-3 instructs. We need to pray for them and do whatever we can to make them successful, urging them – on behalf of our fellow citizens (not for ourselves) – to pass laws and rule in ways that God intended: governing righteously, promoting justice – both judicially and economically – while punishing evildoers and acknowledging those who do well.
Nixon went on to say that the prayers of Missourians have given him strength over the years.
“Each time, it has given me a lift, because you know you feel that power. It not only gives you a lift in your step but a confidence to make decisions. Make no mistake about it — a leader knowing that you’re being prayed for gives you strength and gives you hope.
“It really, really matters. It’s a moving thing to hear — especially from a homeowner whose house has been destroyed by a tornado or flood,” Nixon continued. “You come up to help them, and they say they’re praying for you. Or at a crime victims’ rights rally at the Capitol and the murdered child’s parents say, ‘I’m praying for you.’ People giving their spirit in times of great, great challenge is important.”
Nixon described prayer as having a “power beyond human comprehension or explanation. And the Bible instructs us to pray without ceasing,” he said, referring to 1 Thess. 5:17 in which the Apostle Paul urged the Thessalonians to, “Pray without ceasing.”
Near the end of the program, Greitens – who was sworn-in as Missouri’s 56th governor Jan. 9 – continued with the same theme.
“Our prayers bind us to a shared and merciful purpose. I think faith helps us to remember that we are all here to do God’s work on earth.” He went on to say that God is with us every day, “knowing our imperfections (and) our weaknesses. And knowing that, we know that we need our God and we need each other.”
Greitens concluded by citing his favorite Bible verse, Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou go.”
This was not the first time Greitens has expressed his strong views on prayer. He recently told Missourians in a press conference that he and his family had offered prayers of thanks after Greitens’ wife, Sheena, was spared harm while being robbed last month at gunpoint. The new governor also said his family prayed for the law enforcement officers who apprehended the gunman and alleged accomplices.
Hearing both leaders express their views on prayer was refreshing as much as it was encouraging. Let us commit to regularly pray for Governor Greitens and his family. Let’s also regularly pray for the Missouri General Assembly as they begin the 2017 session, for President-elect Donald Trump, the United States Congress and both the Missouri and U.S. Supreme Courts.