The first couple of times I visited the Episcopal Church in Paris with Laura, I was happily surprised to join the congregation in a prayer for "The President of the United States and all in Civil Authority".
"O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace.
"Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will.
"Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen."
I didn't recall a prayer like this in my childhood Southern Baptist Church. Probably because everybody just assumed everybody else was a loyal Republican and we were all earnestly praying for Reagan's protection from the Godless Anti-America Commie Democrats in our own private quiet time.
But there is an ancient and sacred honor in those words that transcends Party. Transcends Country. I hope that regardless of the outcome on November 4th, my family and I will return to that prayer and we will lift it up with millions and millions of others.
And not only that we would return to it then, but I regret that I've not come back to it sooner. I confess that I have, and have had a difficult time praying for President Bush. It is a sin of pride and anger, I confess it and I wish I could rid myself of it. As a former teacher, I listened closely as President Bush spoke about No Child Left Behind and the need for his idea of accountability in our schools. I watched as parents and administrators wrung their hands waiting for test results to see if our school had failed or succeeded in the eyes of the State. To have the President's message of responsibility and accountability front and center for several years, and to watch the same man avoid those same two words time and again; it drives me crazy.
When I do pray for President Bush, I find myself doing so out of duty and not out of genuine care and concern for the leader of our great country. I'm ashamed at that. I look back at old e-mails and see myself intentionally omitting his title, referring to him disdainfully and only as "Bush". I've noticed this recently and now I do my best to always refer to him as President Bush.
As strongly as I may disagree with his priorities and policies, he sets about them with the authority of the Constitution and with the consent of the people. I regret that I ever paid any disrespect to that principle, and whoever wins, I hope that I will pray for them often, and mean it.