Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Love Your Neighbor ... Outward Focused Prayer




New Year's Resolution: Love Your Neighbor
by Bret Kincaid


Inspired by President Obama's call to perform an act of community service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I thought I'd offer an opportunity to you, Reader, to commit yourself to a New Year's resolution of public service. Perhaps many of you have already committed yourself to engage in public service this year. Still, I offer the following 11 suggestions to help us all live into the second greatest commandment (love your neighbor as yourself) in a year that will surely be full of political and economic challenges. Commit yourself to doing any of these once or as often as you believe you are able to do them.

1. As an act of love and in a spirit of honest and earnest truth-seeking, study the Scriptures and read biblically-based material on public life to help you form or strengthen your faith-based perspective on public life. This exercise will help you perform the following faithfully.
2. Pray for at least one of the following political actors (preferably by name in the case of individuals):
1. President and his advisors
2. Congress
3. Your own congresspersons
4. Bureaucratic leadership (political appointees in each federal department and agency) and civil servants
5. State political leaders (governor, his/her advisors, legislative representatives, bureaucratic leaders, and civil servants)
6. Leaders of local governments (your municipality, school district, county, township, etc.) and local civil servants
3. Pray for leaders, employees, and volunteers of nonprofit organizations doing advocacy (such as Bread for the World or Center on Budget Policies and Priorities) or direct service (a local food bank or after school program, for examples).
4. Keep up on the news and pray for people who are suffering and those who are helping them.
5. Pick a country to learn about and pray for.
6. Pick a policy issue that is dear to your heart, do some research on the issue, and pray for those who have the power to influence that issue.
7. Support an advocacy organization financially.
8. Support a direct service organization financially or by volunteering.
9. Write or call a local, state, or federal representative to respectfully try to persuade him or her to support your position on a particular policy issue.
10. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to persuade readers to support your position on a particular public issue.
11. Consider how your church might directly or indirectly influence a public issue and propose this to your church leadership, being willing to take the initiative to do some spade work to help inform and move the church to achieve what you propose.


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