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Editors’ note: 

Noah Braymen contributed to this post. Noah blogs at No Other Name.

The Story: The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention are partnering to encourage Christians to pray for 40 days leading up to the U.S. presidential election this fall—-from September 26 to November 4. The initiative is called the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal.

The Background: Each national election cycle since 2008, the ERLC and NAMB have partnered to sponsor a non-partisan prayer initiative. It is their desire that as Christians ask for revival among believers and churches that God will spark an awakening across the United States, which will also affect the integrity and character of the type of officials who are elected. It’s an attempt to help believers be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-15) and fulfill 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:

If . . . My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. (HCSB)

They have created a prayer guide as a free download in both English and Spanish in order to help participants focus on particular themes each day. There is one page devoted to each of the 40 days of prayer.

The first half of the vigil begins with focused prayer for personal revival, church revival, revival among church leadership, and national revival. The second half of the vigil focuses prayer toward national renewal, wisdom for public officials, wisdom to elect the best officials, and then a final countdown of prayer.

Why It Matters: Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (HCSB)

It is an unmerited blessing that citizens of the United States have the privilege and civic responsibility to participate in the election of leadership at various levels. Whether or not believers participate in the same method of prayer as the election approaches, it is worthy of our attention to consider if and how we intend to specifically follow Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy. Will we pray for those in elected authority, that God will so work in them to make decisions that will foster growth in godliness? Will we pray for those in elected authority, that God will work in them to create an environment favorable for the spread of the gospel? Will we pray for a great awakening and revival in the lives of Christians and churches in the United States?

The ERLC and NAMB are aiming to enable Christians to answer yes to these questions and to faithfully obey Scripture during the upcoming election season.