Okay, so it doesn’t rhyme. But I think it’s fitting advice for believers at this particular juncture in history.
I have seen a number of blog posts, email chains, websites, and the like, that are expressing anger against President Obama. The ones that have specifically come to my attention have been written by Christians. On one hand, I understand where this is coming from. After all, the reasons I chose not to vote for our current president are the same reasons most people are mad at him right now. It’s good to be passionate about important issues and to take a firm stand for what is right. But on the other hand, I can’t help but feeling that our anger is not actually furthering righteousness. At all.
For one thing, a lot of times, our very premise is off, basing our arguments on the Constitution rather than the Word. I like our constitution, and I’m grateful for some of the good groundwork in our laws, but it’s not Gospel. If we are attaching the language of religious fervor to our political documents, we are probably missing something.
For another thing, we can’t put God in our political party (which, in the writings I’ve seen, has been mostly Republican). God cares a lot about our governmental structure, but He’s not a card-carrying member of either major political party. We ought to recognize and resist when our government is promoting things that God hates (i.e., abortion). But I have been grieved to see the same kind of outraged, self-proclaimed “righteous indignation” that people have towards abortion and the LGBT agenda, also leveled at such things like “socialist redistribution of wealth” or gun control. Whether or not you agree with those practices is beside the point. Whether or not those things are even happening is besides the point. The point is, God never said “Thou shalt be allowed to own guns.” We can’t, in the name of the Lord, oppose things that are not addressed in His Word. Do whatever you want in the name of the Republican party. Hold whatever political opinion you feel is best for our country. But if we’re invoking the name of God to justify our position, we’d better follow it up by championing His cause — not Rush’s, not Obama’s, and not even the Founding Fathers’.
We have to sort out what is biblical truth and what is simply our political standpoint. Economics, law enforcement, health care, taxes, environment, etc., are nowhere spelled out for us in Scripture. In my opinion, they will invariably be broken until Jesus comes back. That doesn’t mean we stop caring, but that means we stop trying to tie Jesus to our party platform as if we really have that much more of a clue what we’re doing than the other guy does.
The main point I want to talk about, though, is the one in the title (go figure): “Don’t get mad… get hungry.” We can rant and rave about our government’s political errors all day. We may even be right. But then what? We get to triumph in going, “Well, I didn’t vote for the guy. Now our country is going to pot, and I’m proved correct, and it serves everyone else right.” But then what? What have we accomplished? With all of our opinions, all of our outrage, and all of our myriad words, what have we actually done?
*Feel free to insert the sound of chirping crickets here*
Getting angry about the current administration doesn’t accomplish anything. Grousing about the President’s idealogies won’t change them. Cursing his election day will not speed up his term. Like it or not, for blessing or for judgment, the Lord has set President Obama in place (see Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:4; 1 Peter 2:13). Getting hot under the collar has no bearing whatever on what has happened, and — unless God intervenes — will continue to happen for four to eight years.
However, there is a biblical pattern for what to do when the government of the land is not as it should be… and it’s not getting mad. It’s getting hungry. In other words, fasting and prayer. Not only does it gel better with the Sermon on the Mount, but it actually accomplishes something. That’s more than you can say for any of our indignant diatribes.
Esther’s three-day fast made it possible for the heart of a king to be swayed and an entire race of people to be spared barbaric genocide (Esther 4:16). Ezra’s fast brought divine protection upon the people, in the face of an apathetic government and antagonistic neighbors (Ezra 8:23). Joel 2:15 specifically prescribes fasting as a key component to seeking mercy in the hour of judgment, and even wicked Nineveh was spared as they humbled themselves before the Lord in fasting (Jonah 3:5).
My favorite example of this by far, though, is the prophet Daniel. He was a man of significant influence in the court of the most powerful king on earth. He had clout. He had tremendous favor with the king. A few well-placed words, and Daniel could have had almost anything he wanted. But when it came time to establish God’s purposes for Israel in the political realm, he didn’t begin a “save Israel” campaign. He didn’t fume about the godless government of Persia. He didn’t actually even appeal to the ruling authorities. He went straight for the highest Throne in creation.
At a glance, Daniel’s approach doesn’t look tremendously effective. It almost looks laughable. “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled” (Daniel 10:2-3). Picture, if you will, a man in his eighties. He’s not as young or strong as he used to be. He is deeply concerned for his people. So he is refusing to bathe. He only eats boring food. And this is what is supposed to shape the course of history. Really, Daniel? our modern sensibilities might say. I mean, that’s kind of cute, but what are you actually hoping to accomplish here? This is hardly even a real hunger strike.
But this one little old man, from his private prayers by the Tigris River, rocked the very course of heaven and earth. An angel is sent in answer to his prayers, which is cool enough in itself, but read what happens:
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” …Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.” (Daniel 10:12-13,20)
In answer to Daniel’s prayer, this angel was sent. In the twenty-one days of Daniel’s fasting and prayer, he was fighting the Prince of Persia. We’re not talking your average ego-assaulting, temptation-wielding demon. We’re talking about the demonic principality that was over the land of Persia, no doubt influencing its governors and infrastructures. On day 21, Michael comes to help in the fight — and notice we’re not just talking any angel, we’re talking Michael, the “great prince” of Israel (Dan 12:1), one of the very archangels of God.
Because of Daniel’s prayer, that oppressive demonic covering over Persia was broken through. And the angel who speaks with Daniel lets him know that when the encounter is over, he’s turning right back around to make war against this demonic principality again. In time, the Prince of Persia would be completely removed, making way for an entire other empire to rise up in Persia’s place.
All because one little eighty-year-old man stopped showering, ate boring food, and prayed.
When was the last time our infuriated rantings took down a demonic principality? What scathing letter of disgust ever unraveled an entire empire? It hasn’t. It never will. It may assuage our emotions for a moment or two. It may help us feel like we’ve spoken up, and therefore done something. But it’s not going to unseat any demons. It won’t even intimidate them.
Our most effective course of action is to do what looks absolutely batty to the political scene. By fasting — whether we skip some food, most food, or all of it for a while — and by seeking the Lord’s face in prayer, we do far more towards shaping our government’s laws and motives than any lobbyist group could ever hope for. This is not to say we skip the vote, or that we neglect the legitimate realms of influence open to us as citizens of this country. But this is to say that we must understand our battle is no more with flesh and blood than it’s ever been. Our words of anger, no matter how well-penned or spoken, all ultimately ring hollow before a massive spiritual battle that we have no hope of winning through our own devices. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but prayer and fasting dwarf them both.
If we love our country, and if we want to see our government change for the good, we need to stop trumpeting our own opinions and start praying the Lord’s Word. If we want to see the demonic practices of abortion and perversion broken in our land, we should have fewer arguments and skip more meals. We don’t need more talk radio hosts; we need more intercessors. Save the anger for the real enemy, and join the ranks of men and women who have actually changed the course of their nation. Don’t get mad… get hungry.