I came home from work on the evening of August 29th, flipped through the major network channels and was quickly disturbed by the bickering and bantering of the political campaigns, advertisements, and pundits. I felt an ache in my gut, a sadness in my heart for the way our country conducts itself through the election season, from both sides. I turned the tv off, trying to keep cynicism from creeping in.
So when I received a call the following day with an invitation to pray for our nation at the DNC, I almost laughed in disbelief. The person on the other end of the line was an acquaintance who used to work for the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives. He was looking for a Christian who has done “good and admirable work in the world” and was familiar with Blood:Water Mission because he had heard me speak a couple of times.
It was a call full of questions-
How can I pray honestly before an arena of politics and power?
How do I, a nonprofit leader, transcend partisanship?
Of course, I felt honored and excited, but I mostly felt humbled, like in the heavy, sobering kind of way.
To take on the task, I retreated for several hours to my secret garden of Radnor Lake and walked along the soft soil of its trail, lost in thought and reflection, wondering what I could possibly pray to the God of the universe in front of people from various backgrounds, convictions and walks of life.
As I meandered through the woods, I had this unrelenting sense that I ought to simply pray for the things I care most about:
The prayer of St. Francis came to me, as well as the Scripture in Micah that says that seeking justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with God are what the Lord requires of us.
By Tuesday, September 4th, I was in Charlotte with a prayer on my heart that was ready to be shared. Backstage that night, I sat with incredibly influential people – Rahm Emanuel, Kathleen Sebelius, Kal Penn, Craig Robinson, and Governor Deval Patrick. I watched these powerful people look as human as I was. I asked Governor Patrick if he ever gets nervous in situations like these. He smiled at me and replied, “Of course I do!” And then he kindly said, “You’ll do great.”
I sat on the side of the stage as the First Lady spoke with heart and elegance, and then when she finished, I walked up to the podium and felt the most amazing sense of peace and confidence in what I was supposed to pray. They were the honest words of a citizen, praying to God and hoping also to reach other citizens on their couches, who might be watching with the same sentiments I felt just five days earlier. I meant every word and have been encouraged by the thousands of you who prayed alongside of me. May justice and mercy trump partisanship in our lives these next 6 weeks.