What is Public Servants' Prayer? An article from NPR New Jersey

The following is an article that was written by NPR affiliate newsworks.com in New Jersey.

The writer conveys the heart of Public Servants' Prayer quite well.

National project asks faithful to pray for political leaders -

By Joe Hernandez

In late 2004, Matthew Barnes was working at a hardware store when he heard a sermon about praying for political leaders.

The Bible verses that caught his attention were 1 Timothy 2:1-2: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

"I thought that would be a neat idea for a ministry," said Barnes, "because many folks, citizens across the United States, don't even know their legislators' names, much less what they care about."

Thus was born Public Servants' Prayer, initially a website that named three senators, representatives, or state politicians from Indiana each day and encouraged people to pray for them.

Barnes, a volunteer chaplain at the Indiana Statehouse, decided after a while to expand Public Servants' Prayer nationally, and hired a firm that specialized in political data to supply him with information about the more than 8,000 members of Congress and state legislators.

Now, the project has around 25,000 followers across 50 Twitter accounts (one for each U.S. state), which name three politicians per day to pray for.

Barnes hopes the project will help with what he calls the country's "civility problem."

"The neat thing about prayer is that, as someone begins to pray for someone, it's impossible to hate someone you're earnestly praying for. You end up loving them," he said. "That's my hope, my prayer, is that as people begin to pray, that their hearts begin to be softened towards people who don't think like them."

New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, who was featured in early November, said he applauds the idea even though he believes strongly in the separation between church and state.

Gusciora said he hopes the faithful pray "that I do the right thing and that we make sure we take care of the people who most need it, especially in times during the holidays.

"I think it is important to think about helping others, and this fits in with that," he said.

November 29, 2015


My Hope for American Believers

A Fresh Approach to Political Involvement

I have been ministering in the Indiana Statehouse for more than 10 years. God has opened more doors than I would have ever imagined, and it all started with God impressing on my heart to pray for leaders. I found that it is impossible to hate someone for whom you earnestly pray. I can honestly say that I love politicians! Politicians are simply people who hurt, feel and bleed the same as you and I. Some of them know Christ, others do not. The political arena has a vacuum of pastoral care.

Many people want to influence politics and politicians. Every time there is a perceived political loss for people of faith, there are passionate calls for pastors and churches to engage. This is true of churches on all sides of the political spectrum. However, influence takes time and integrity. Let people know you care about them, and they are more likely to listen. Earn the right to be heard.

Biblical Foundation

In 1 Peter 2:12-17, God gives us a path to sharing the Gospel with leaders.

"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." (vs. 12)

  • "Conversation" in this verse refers to how we talk and conduct ourselves, or our behavior. We are to be a benefit to our communities and society at large.
  • "Among the Gentiles" calls attention to unbelievers.
  • "The day of visitation" can have several applications, from civil leaders visiting a church, to Judgement Day. Matthew Henry and John Gill indicate that "the day of visitation" likely refers to when God visits a soul to draw them to Himself.
  • Note the parallel language and concept in 1 Peter 2:18 and 3:1

Verses 13-14 admonish the believer to submit to civil government.

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”

Verse 15 reconnects the unbelieving leaders mentioned in verses 13-14, back to verse 12.

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (vs. 15)

The will of God is that while you are submitting to authority and doing good works, you are stopping the mouths of those who speak ill of you. If your local government sees your ministry and appreciates the efforts, God can use it to draw their hearts to Him. So how do we engage these leaders who think badly of the people of God?

Here is a three-fold mission plan that is both biblical and practical.

Prayer, Honor, Service

1) PRAY - Although it may seem to lack the flashy appeal that comes with political action, it is the biblical believer’s mandate found in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Prayer is the most powerful action you can perform. Why settle for twisting the arm of a political leader when we know the One who holds their heart in His hands? (Proverbs 21:1) While it is indeed vital to have Christians serving in the public sphere, prayer should lead to action, not vice versa.

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater works, prayer is the greater work!" Oswald Chambers

Our team has spent countless hours and resources to develop a free tool to assist you in systematically praying for all of your state and federal legislators. You can find it at www.publicservantsprayer.org. Sign up for a daily or weekly email, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook from your state page on the website.

2) HONOR - “I respect the office, but not the officeholder.” Is this biblical reasoning? First Peter 2:17 states, "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." It appears we are to honor both the person and the position. We do not have to agreewith their actions to honor and love them. It is difficult to influence someone without first honoring them.

3) SERVE - Peter encouraged the people of God to let civil government leaders see their good works, which will bring God glory. Serving communities by helping the widows, fatherless, poor, needy, and elderly actually directs people to Jesus. This is not advocating for a works-based gospel, but merely pointing out that believers are saved to good works. (See Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:16) Be aware that government leaders see straight through a façade and often presume (rightly so) that everyone wants something from them. View the political arena as a mission field. Serve with authenticity, sincerity and integrity. Steer clear of ulterior motives and hidden agendas.

All states have local governments. Indiana has 10,746 elected leaders. There are 92 counties with courthouses, scores of cities and towns, numerous school boards, elected sheriffs, judges, township trustees, etc. The doors to government meetings are open to the public. Go to the various bodies of government and silently pray while public meetings are being held. If you want to know where a community needs ministry, listen to elected leaders. They have their finger on the pulse of the problem areas. There is a local unit of government quite near you and your church. If you need help finding when your local government meets, our team can help. We are even willing to assist you by attending meetings with you or making introductions with leaders.

We may be surprised what God will do with this initiative. As you begin to pray specifically for your leaders and their requests, your church may find ways to assist local civil government. Your church may already do many things to benefit your local community. This is wonderful, but a key piece of 1 Peter 2:12 says that the leaders will "behold" the good works. We don't have to trumpet our good deeds, but we can let local leaders know what we are doing and ask how we can be more effective.

Use this simple mission statement to guide you - I will PRAY, I will HONOR my leaders, I will SERVE my community.

Access is granted. Influence is earned.

First Newsletter Ever (January 2005)

January, 2005

Hello from the great capitol city of Indiana! This is the first of many letters we hope to write sharing what God is doing through The Public Servant’s Prayer Ministry. Some of you may already know the burden that God has laid on my heart, but for those of you who do not, here’s a brief synopsis.

In late October of 2004, God impressed upon my heart 1 Timothy 2:1-2. I had desired for many years to be ministering full-time, but God had not opened any doors until then. After a month of prayer, consideration, and counsel, God made it clear that I was to leave my full-time job and start a ministry of prayer to the public servants across Indiana. The ministry has a dual purpose:(1) To minister to and gather the specific prayer requests from the legislators of Indiana, (2) To encourage local churches to get directly involved in praying for their community leaders.

My family and I arrived in Indianapolis on Jan 3, and the legislative session began the 4th. God has opened many doors in the short time we have been here. I am now scheduling speakers, leading the music, and my wife plays the piano for the weekly chapel services here in the Statehouse. The chapel services have been in existence for more than forty years so we consider it a great honor to be asked to fill these roles. I have also been invited to attend the weekly Legislator’s Bible Study.

I have been greatly encouraged to meet some solid, godly, leaders here in our state government. One of my biggest supporters has been Senator Dennis Kruse. He has introduced me to several people as the chaplain of the general assembly and has given me many great ideas on how to further the ministry. Obviously it will take a long time to establish relationships with all 150 legislators, but I am thankful for the ones that have welcomed me so readily into their midst.

I am currently looking for churches across the state that have a desire to pray for their state representative and senator. I would love to come and speak to your church and share the burden God has laid on my heart. My vision and goal is to see several churches in each district across the state praying for and corresponding with their legislators.

Let me give you an example of the power of ONE voice. Senator Sue Landske stated to me she has ONE church that sends her a card just ONCE a year thanking her for her work and letting her know they are praying for her. They have made a profound impression on her and she updates them on the general assembly. The astounding thing is that church is not even in her district. What an impact we as Christians could make with a little effort!

God has already answered many prayers and provided in incredible ways for us. We have a wonderful place to stay while we are in Indianapolis four to five days every week. We were given a top-of-the-line lap top and the money to buy a printer. My wardrobe changed considerably in this new job and I received many gifts of clothing that have helped me be dressed properly. Even down to the smallest details, God provides for his people! Thank you all for your part in praying for and supporting us!

Let me close by giving you some prayer requests that I have gathered here:

(1)Sen. Allie Craycraft (district 26, Muncie) fell off a ladder and broke his back

(2)Sen. Dennis Kruse (dist. 14, Fort Wayne) family time

(3)Sen. Sue Landske (dist. 6, Cedar Lake) patience

(4)Sen. Teresa Lubbers (dist. 30, Indianapolis) peace from God about decisions

(5)Sen. Ryan Mishler (dist. 9, Bremen) newborn baby – Grant Evan

(6)Sen. Johnny Nugent (dist. 43, Lawrenceburg) physical health

(7)Sen. Richard Young (dist. 47, Milltown) wife passed away two weeks ago

(8)Rep. Cleo Duncan (dist. 67, Greensburg) be used as an instrument in the hand of God

(9)Rep. Bill Friend (dist. 23, Macy) strength of character, mental clarity, wisdom

(10)Rep. Cindy Noe (dist. 87, Indianapolis) transition of leadership from dem. to rep.

(11)Rep. Phyllis Pond (dist. 85, New Haven) keep average people in mind

(12)Rep. Phil Pflum (dist. 56, Milton) has Hodgkins disease

(13)Rep. Peggy Welch (dist. 60, Bloomington) Walk match talk

Please pray for our family, that God would give us flexibility in this life-changing work, but also help us to develop a schedule that works for us. Miriam asks for prayer for patience with the children and the changes. Also, please pray for me, for boldness and that God would continue to open doors and grant favor with our legislators.

Thank you for being a part of the work God has called us to!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

Rev. Matthew Barnes