I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Perhaps you were never familiar with Emma Daniel Gray, but I know God is. (Okay—I know God is familiar with everyone, but work with me.) Judging by a recent Washington Post profile of her following her death last year at the age of 95, she and God spoke quite often.
Raised in South Carolina by her grandfather, a former slave, Gray and her husband moved to D.C. in the 40’s seeking employment. She found a job cleaning various government buildings. Her work ethic eventually led her to the White House in 1955. She worked there until her retirement in 1979.
Every night Mrs. Gray cleaned the oval office, and according to the Post, “(w)hen she came to the president's chair, she would pause, cleaning materials in hand, and say a quick prayer.” I love that image. Every night she prayed for one of the world’s most powerful people.
Now, given the six presidents that she prayed for, there is no possible way that she liked the politics of every single one of them. We’re told that she personally liked Presidents Carter and Kennedy. Does that mean she didn’t like Nixon? The article doesn’t say. What we do know is that she prayed for all six of the Presidents who were in office during her tenure, regardless of their policies or party affiliation.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Scripture is clear in its desire that we pray for our leaders no matter who they are. It doesn’t mean we have to approve of their policies. We are not asked to betray our faith. We are simply told by the Bible to pray for all of those in authority. Given the bitterness that I see on the current political scene, I wonder how many Christians have been able to follow Mrs. Gray’s example consistently over the last decade.
There’s another way we can follow her lead. This Sunday we’re going to be looking at Jesus’ take on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. Not to ruin the surprise, but he basically says, “Keep it simple.” There’s no need for flashiness. There’s no need for a lot of words. And it’s just between you and God, so don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m inspired by the image of this woman, unknown by so many, who offered a simple prayer every night for the President. You know, whatever power was present in that office during the day can’t even come close to the power that was at work in the night.

Robert Lee