Ted Cruz and Mikhail Gorbachev: Why We Should Pray for National Leaders

This morning Senator Ted Cruz from Texas finished the fourth longest speech in US Senate history–over 21 hours–using a filibuster-like tactic to draw attention to the problems of Obamacare. Cruz, like a majority of Americans, wants the Affordable Care Act defunded and repealed.

Why? Because it is the most destructive entitlement program in the history of the Republic which will sink the American nation into the fiscal abyss, the shackles of tyranny (think IRS), and another recession (or Depression).

Whether you agree with Ted Cruz’ tactical strategy or not, I ask you to pray for him and many other national leaders.

Mikhail Gorbachev just might be an inspiration for you.

First of all, a few thoughts on Ted Cruz. He’s a new-generation political leader of Hispanic background that you need to watch coming years. Ted is principled, smart, articulate, courageous, and just might run for president in either 2016 or 2020.

If we want “good vision” in 2020 (pun intended) keep your eyes on Ted “of the Cross” (Cruz in Spanish). We desperately need someone like him who will tell us the truth and lead the American nation back to the freedoms of godly government where faith, morality, family values, limited government, economic liberty and peace through strength reign as bedrock principles–not just a forgotten past.

There are others like him on the horizon–legislators Mike Lee (UT) and Marco Rubio (FL) come to mind, and also many conservative governors (Susanna Martinez (NM), Bobby Jindal (LA), Nicki Haley (NC), Mitch Daniels (IN), John Kasich (OH) and Scott Walker (WI)–to name a few. They all seem to be rising in stature and influence.

I believe there is a prayer correlation to their success. Here’s the Scriptural backdrop:

“The first thing I want to to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well, so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved” (1 Timothy 2:1,2 – The Message).

I think the first time I prayed for a government leader was in a church service. Whoever was up front  led the congregation in praying for our president and other leaders.

Some year later, I began to pray for political leaders in small groups where we discussed some of the issues of the day and then bowed our heads to pray for our mayor, governor, president, or leaders of other countries. The group dynamic helped me remember that public figures needed our prayers.

Then I helped coordinate a large national prayer meeting in Washington, D.C. in 1980. Much of that day was spent praying for godly leadership in America. Six months later, the Reagan Revolution swept into town with many secular leaders voted out of office, and numerous others were elected to lead America in a different direction. The day of President Reagan’s inauguration, the Iranian hostages were freed–also a fruit of prayer and other factors.

So for about twenty years, I prayed for political leaders primarily when I was in a group setting, either large or small.

But I rarely did it alone in my personal quiet times.

Then God exploded 2 Timothy 2:1,2 on my heart. It teaches that:

  • Prayer is the first or most important thing we can do.
  • We should pray for all people on earth (verse 1).
  • We should pray for political leaders including heads of nations (verse 2)
  • Because good government is essential to peace and tranquility,
  • And civil government and their leaders contribute to all people coming to salvation.

What an amazing intercessory promise: praying for righteous leaders and good government has a huge bearing on world evangelization.

So for the past twenty years, I’ve not just prayed for national leaders when it was convenient in large and small group settings, but have brought it into the center of my own personal prayer life.

The YWAM Prayer Diary helped me. It contains a page where you can commit to praying for different items on each of the seven days of the week. Since God said “first of all” to pray for “everyone and leaders,” I chose to use of the the first days of the week to pray specifically for local, national and world political leaders.

I believe it is one of my most important practices today. Why?

Because God says so.

To encourage you to add this practice to your own personal prayer life, let me refer to the former dictator of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

I saw an article a few years ago (that resurfaced this week), that reminded me that our prayers for the supreme leader of the USSR in the 70s and 80s did not go unanswered.

I started praying for Mr. Gorbachev to come to faith, and for God to use him for his purposes in the mid 1970s. In 1980, I led a team into the USSR. We spent an entire day fasting and praying for the freedom of the Soviet Union, for its people and its leaders.

Nine years later, the Iron Curtain fell and eventually half the world was liberated from the clutches of  atheistic communism. In the past thirty years, many people in China, the USSR, and other communist states have come to faith in Jesus Christ.

And Mikhail Gorbachev is crucial to that decisive historical change.

He was the architect of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring or reformation) of the Soviet communist empire. As a part of a long line of dictators that included Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and other tyrants, Gorbachev was assumed to be a hard-line communist.

Then an article appeared in March 2008 that indicated the Mikhail Gorbachev might be a Christian.

The suspicion emerged after private citizen Gorbachev paid a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi (in Italy). Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb. His arrival in Assisi was described as “spiritual perestroika” by La Stampa, the Italian newspaper.

“St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ,” said Mr Gorbachev. “His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life,” he added.

After his prayers, Mr Gorbachev toured the Basilica of St Francis. He said, “It was through St Francis that I arrived at the Church, so it was important that I came to visit his tomb. I feel very emotional to be here at such an important place not only for the Catholic faith, but for all humanity.” He also asked the monks for theological books to help him understand St Francis’s life.

Father Miroslavo Anuskevic, who accompanied the former Soviet leader, said: “He was not recognised by any of the worshippers in the church, and silently meditated at the tomb for a while. He seemed a man deeply inspired by charity, and told me that he was involved in a project to help children with cancer. He talked a lot about Russia and said that even though the transition to democracy had been very important for the world, it was very painful for Russia. He said it was a country which has a great history, and also a great spirituality.”

Mr Gorbachev’s surprise visit seemed to confirm decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian. 

Interestingly, Ronald Reagan allegedly told his close aides on a number of occasions that he felt his opponent during the Cold War was a “closet believer.”On a number of occasions when the two leaders met at summits, Gorbachev stunned Reagan by invoking God’s name, typically in expressions like “only God knows” or “God help us.”

Reagan was struck by this at the first summit they held together in Geneva in November of 1985. In their very first plenary meeting, Gorbachev chimed in, “We have never been at war with each other. Let us pray God that this never happens.” He dropped the G-word in a casual reference during his and Reagan’s fireside chat at Geneva and that evening used a biblical quotation in an impromptu toast at a state dinner.

So was he or wasn’t he?

Here’s my take. At the least, God was working in the heart of a gruesome communist dictator to answer the prayers of many and to change the history of the planet.

Actually, the seeds of possible faith had been planted many decades earlier. Gorbachev  had been  baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church as a child and his parents were Christians. I imagine they also prayed quite a few prayers for young “Michael.” Also, the parents of Mikhail Gorbachev’s wife, Raisa, were deeply religious and were killed during World War II for having religious icons in their home.

So, there was a Christian heritage of sorts for both the last president and last first lady of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

To be fair to the record, after the Assisi-visit story appeared in 2008, Gorbachev denied that he was a follower of Christ.  He said, “To sum up and avoid any misunderstandings, let me say that I have been and remain an atheist, but all these years, it has never occurred to anyone to list me among followers of any faith on that basis.”

So, at least in this interview, he denied Christ.

He was either stating the truth, or bowing to public pressure to keep his faith quiet. Only God knows the human heart.

I don’t know if Mikhail Gorbachev is a believer or not. But I do know this:

  • He and his wife were baptized as children.
  • That most atheists don’t pray for thirty minutes on their knees at a Christian shrine.
  • He appears to be on a spiritual quest for meaning (or maybe peace) before he, too, goes the way of all the earth.
  • That God used him open up half the world to a fresh encounter with the teachings of Jesus.
  • And that I and many others prayed for him by name–that God would change and use him for his glory.

So, let’s press in in prayer for national and world leaders! Are you praying for Angela Merkel of Germany, or Xi Jinping of China? Or how about Fidel Castro on his death-bed in Havana or Barack Obama and his influence on America and the world?

“The first thing I want you to do is pray…Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well.”

Do it in church, in public gatherings, and in your own prayer closet. Pray for Ted Cruz and the new generation. Pray for the leaders of India, China and the other nations of the world.

Maybe another Mikhail Gorbachev is out there–and God is wanting you to pray for him or her to change the world again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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