The Common Good

A Pre-Election Prayer for Our Next President

I'm volunteering for a presidential candidate, mostly making phone calls to people in various states at volunteer headquarters. It is encouraging to work with people of all ages, walks of life, and races - people who, like me, were sideliners who are now enthusiastically involved with a sense of possibilities, believing that our efforts make a difference and things can change. My afternoon phone calls primarily reach elderly or others who are homebound. What a slice of the U.S.: "Organ" recitals (my kidneys, etc.), mad, lonely, sad, and hopeful. One sometimes gets the phone slammed down, or comments unbefitting of a U.S. citizen - "I'll never vote for a black or a woman" - but mostly people are pondering, reflecting on what's important to them and wanting better things for themselves and the country. There's the longing for peace and fairness. A recent Sunday's Psalm reading reflects the prayers of all of us for good leadership. Psalm 72 (I am using "president" in place of "king"):


Please help the president be honest and fair, just like you, our God. Let the president be honest and fair with all your people, especially the poor. Let peace and justice rule every mountain and hill. Let the president defend the poor, rescue the homeless, and crush everyone who hurts them. ... Let the president be fair with everyone, and let there be peace until the moon falls from the sky.


Through this daunting election year, may we be praying for leadership that reflects the Psalmist's hope for peace, fairness, and honesty - especially for the poor.

Mary Nelson is president emeritus of Bethel New Life, a faith-based community development corporation on the west side of Chicago. She is also a board member of Sojourners.

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