IRVING, Texas (BP) -- Southern Baptists of Texas Convention President Terry Turner rallied executive board members April 24 to pray faithfully for President Barack Obama and members of Congress, seeking a change in the spiritual climate of the nation.
"I've asked that our country and our convention begin to support our president in prayer," stated Turner, pastor of Mesquite (Texas) Friendship Baptist Church. "I don't believe in the political views he holds, but I do know he's our president and as Christians we are required to pray for him, ask God to direct him, guide him and straighten him out if he's wrong."
The nation is "in the midst of one of the most heated political climates I've ever experienced," Turner told the board during its meeting in Irving.
"A lot of innuendos are coming down that are untrue about our Southern Baptist Convention in regard to our positions. We know that we hold a biblical position and whatever the Bible says is what we support and believe in," he said. "If we are not careful, we will find ourselves on the outside looking in when it comes to biblical beliefs we hold being eroded in society."
Turner said a movement of prayer for the president and Congress could "shed a whole different light on our convention" and could change the climate "that is really hurting our Christian spirituality in our country."
He appealed to Southern Baptists to "take the high road" when expressing disagreement with President Obama. "It's hard to be a black pastor in a convention that is predominantly white," he acknowledged. "Because Barack Obama is our first African American president, we don't want him to fail as a president."
Refusing to be labeled as a Republican or a Democrat, Turner said, "I'm a Christian. I want what God wants."
In his closing prayer, Turner asked God to help those present make a difference in the country and the world.
"Help our prayers to influence the spiritual climate of our Congress as well as our president."
Turner prayed specifically for President Obama and his family, "that You would lead him in the right direction, show him the error of his ways, put him on good standing and allow him to be the man You would have him to be."
For Congress, Turner prayed, "Help them to understand the importance of both parties being involved, that they'll give us the best governing system that we could possibly have."
Noting that "so many are hurting because of the spiritual and political climate of our society," Turner asked God to "lift us above it and let us be a people called by Your name" who reflect the humility described in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
He asked board members to carry back to their churches the challenge to pray for the president and other elected leaders. "I'd love to see it run through our convention and run through our country so whenever anything is negatively said about the Southern Baptist Convention, everybody will know that we are praying for the spiritual climate of our country."
Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist Texan
), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.