Scripture is clear: we must pray. Jeremiah 29:7 tells us to pray for the societies we live in. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 directs “that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving should be offered ... for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live peaceful and quiet lives”(New Jerusalem Bible). Similar instructions are given in Baruch 1:10-12.
Those instructions apply even—and especially—when we would choose a different course for society or different leaders. They were given to folks who were probably unhappy with their societies/leaders; they were living in hostile societies with less than ideal leaders. Any doubt on this is removed by Jesus' command to “pray for those who persecute you[.]” Matthew 5:44 (New Jerusalem Bible). Given the breadth of our challenges and our divided politics, everybody has concerns about something or some leader, so everybody should be praying.
So how do we do that? None of us know all the details about our problems or leaders, but God does. His word gives us at least two sets of directions on how to pray about these matters.
The first is to simply get started, regardless of our ability to articulate specific requests. The scriptures discussed above are open ended. Start by praying over them and let the Holy Spirit take over. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Spirit “comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly… the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words” (New Jerusalem Bible). God will “get it” even if we can’t clearly say it.
The second is to pray over scriptures discussing how societies and leaders ought and ought not to be. There are a LOT of those scriptures, coalescing around principles believers of all political backgrounds can agree on. They can direct our prayers, and through them, our societies and leaders. Those scriptures will be detailed in later posts, but are covered in broad strokes here.