This post accompanies my general article “I am making everything New, and you can help, starting with COP26 in Glasgow, October 31-November 12 2021.”
You can view and also download the ‘Climate Intercessors’ 10 strategic prayers for COP26 document here: https://www.climateintercessors.org/10-prayers-for-cop26-1
Strategic Prayer point 9: Leadership.
Lord God of Creation, we thank you for our human leaders, who are men and women like us, and so are not perfect! Nevertheless, we thank You for them, and for their service.
As we commend them to you as they and their representatives gather in Glasgow this weekend for the two days of leader speeches and negotiations, we recognise that you have long intervened in the affairs of this human world, in ways which our theology may still not accommodate. You treated the kings and pharaohs of old with grace and mercy, speaking to them personally and using them to accomplish your good purposes in this world, even though they were not your special people, your avowed followers. We hope for the same partnership and blessing at this crucial time, when the common fate of all lies before them and the decisions being made next week.
Thank you that some of our leaders are like Pharaoh in Egypt, who received your dreams of warning, of mysterious insight into a distant but nevertheless inevitable famine that would assail ‘his’ land in the politically far-off future. Against all the odds, as we would measure them, he gave his attention to your visions, tested his advisors and found them wanting, and then sought out the man of God whom you had prepared for such a time1. Extraordinarily you blessed Pharaoh and his court with an extraordinary level of humility to accept Joseph’s counsel2, which came from You, and further to promote him to ultimate office to bring about the adaptations required3. Pharaoh did this without changing his religion or the religion of his country, though that happened at other times – Lord, in Your Sovereignty we ask you to move the hearts of our leaders to be like this leader, and respond promptly with wisdom.
We pray that you will find many of our leaders will walk in this example when they meet in Glasgow, and as the negotiations continue right now through diplomatic channels. The prophesied seven years of plenty were just enough, for once they had ended, the famine was upon them all! Holy Father, we ask that there will be such a timely response, as the science says we have no more than a decade to act corporately, and to act differently. We ask that you impart a common gift by your Spirit of humility, to reject all faulty counsel and search out and embrace the right advice.
Father God, we know that some leaders have heard the warnings of heaven, whether through science, from their people, or simply through the talk of the international community. They say that they have heard, but in their hearts they have not, being wedded to habit, vested interests, and the lobbying of the foolish and to the banal evil of faceless corporations- the excuse of ‘the system.’ Like Nebuchadnezzar, they have heard Your direct challenge and may have paused to say the right things4, but then revert to their careless and arrogant hubris. And then- oh great God of Mercy- when your judgement falls upon them they eventually come to their senses! You preserved the life of this arrogant king, and even his place in government, as he was chastened before You, and as he came to his senses, he returned to the world stage to give You glory. We don’t know how his behaviour changed- what sort of leader he then became- but we surmise that he was a wiser king and a better servant of his community. And for such we pray for our leaders- You know who they are Lord, Merciful God!
Thirdly Lord, you know those leaders who are hiding from You and from all good wisdom at this time. Some will be those who stay away from the COP in Glasgow, but others will hide in plain sight, even saying the right things in public. Like Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar, who ought to have learned lessons5 from his father, they indulge their passions, exploit their people, ravage the earth, consuming its produce and products without thought for tomorrow, and nurture arrogance even before Your Face, as they serve up their feasts on the vessels of Your Temple. Lord, even as we cry for mercy, we pray that Your writing comes to them, in the secret halls and offices where they and their friends would try to hide. And we pray for the writing to be interpreted to them, that some may be saved from disaster. Let mercy triumph over judgement, as Jesus taught us, and yet please remove those who practice wickedness without repentance that is bringing our world, Your world, to such ruin. Give their place to wiser leaders, and may your people be found there to support them.
Be Lord of Mercy and Lord of Judgement in these things Father, for You alone see into all our hearts and know whether the soil there can be prepared to enable your Word-Seed to grow: can the stones be removed, and the soil turned over, or must the tares be left to grow with the wheat? We forgive their trespasses Lord, for we hope also for Your forgiveness; yet we beseech you that You will bless us with good leaders in our time, that there may be peace in our Day.
In Jesus’ Name
Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream (Iran, 19th century) Judeo-Persian illuminated manuscript on a rectangular sheet. Drawing depicting Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and Judeo-Persian inscription (written in Farsi using Hebrew characters) within a black and red double frame. Accession no. 85.46.2 (Gift of Chimon Mayeri and Family). https://www.flickr.com/photos/magnesmuseum/4558795206
Detail of a miniature of Nebuchadnezzar and an ox, both eating grass. Image taken from f. 402 of Bible historiale, with various biblical books and saints lives (the early version) (Grand Bible historiale complétée à prologues). Written in French. Nebuchadnezzar from BL Royal 19 D III, f. 402 https://picryl.com/media/nebuchadnezzar-from-bl-royal-19-d-iii-f-402-8df794
Belshazzar’s feast.*oil on canvas.*167,6 x 209,2 cm .*signed c.r.: Rembrand/F 163(.).*inscribed t.r.: Mene mene tekel upharsin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belshazzar%27s_Feast_(Sibelius)#/media/File:Belshazzar%E2%80%99s_feast,_by_Rembrandt.jpg
(c) 2021 Stephen Thompson