The recent BBC documentary, Inside the Commons, has for the first time given the public an insight into life as an MP in Parliament. However, what the programme is missing, is the Christian heritage which is inscribed and literally ringing out from Parliament – but more about Big Ben later. The public eye has been kept away from what happens, and has been for the last 450 years, at the beginning of each Parliamentary day – prayers. The Speaker’s Chaplain reads out a passage from the Bible and a Prayer for Parliament which is a good guide to praying for your MP. It reads:
Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.
A duty to pray
As Christians we have a duty to pray. Paul makes clear that praying for those in authority is not just something for Christian political activists, nor is it to be consigned to a prayer for ‘any other business’. In his letter to Timothy, while urging prayer for everyone, he also makes clear that ‘kings and all those in authority’ are top of the list.
This is not an optional extra prayer, just for those who like or support the government or their local MP as Paul was even urging prayers for the Roman emperor Nero, a persecutor of Christians! Interestingly, Paul does not first urge prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters, but for politicians.
A privilege to pray
It is a privilege as well as a duty to pray for MPs. The miracle that through the redemptive work of his Son and the interceding of his Spirit, we can express our thanksgiving and intercessions to God, should never be undermined. However, we can sometimes make the assumption that the privilege of prayer is only worth our ‘privileged prayer’; that only our most prized prayers are those intercessions worthy of the Creator’s listening ear, while others should not distract him. Perhaps we make the assumption, albeit subconsciously, that the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters are worth more than the prayers for our local MP.
The TV documentary also missed out the engraving on the floor of central lobby, which reads, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’. Psalm 127:1 reminds us that all things should be undergirded with prayer, in accordance with the truth that God is sovereign over all things.
Do what is right
So please pray that your MP would be a member of integrity who truly seeks peace. Although the language of Parliament is the combative style of debate, pray that this would serve to achieve peace, as Paul understood this to be the very job of your MP.
Secondly, as part of this peace-seeking, as a representative of you, his or her party and also bound by a conscience, pray that your MP is moved to do what is right. The Prayer of Parliament urges MPs not to be motivated by a desire to please but for the common good. Pray that in those times of public debate and private consideration, your MP would, according to the will of our good God, do what is right.
Finally, pray that your MP would have a healthy perspective; that while he or she may well secure some truly sound legislation which improves the lives of many, he or she would remember that this world is fallen and not the end game. Pray that your MP would seek to be ambitious as an agent of peace, to make things better for the common good, but that it is the Prince of Peace, who we eagerly anticipate with great confidence, that will finally bring true justice to the earth.
Finally, I must mention Big Ben who gives us great advice about what to pray for your MP every 15 minutes when he rings out those famous chimes. What is not so well known is the words to these chimes are a prayer to and for all MPs. They read:
All through this hour
Lord be my guide
And by Thy power
No foot shall slide.