August Prayer Partner: What I’d Like to Ask Candidates at Tomorrow’s Presidential Primary Debate

 In Prayer Partner

Dear friend,

Tomorrow night marks the first of what will likely be many debates in the lead up to the November 2024 presidential election. Candidates for the Republican nomination for president will gather in my home state of Wisconsin to be asked about their views on a range of public policy issues.

These conversations may start on the screen, but they continue on in conversations across the country. Husbands and wives discuss candidates’ statements – whether nuanced policy prescriptions or fear-inducing falsehoods – as they sit together in front of the television. Siblings exchange text messages. Social media platforms light up with hot takes, amplifying one candidate and mocking another.

The debates even carry into local churches, where what candidates have said about refugees, asylum seekers or the border often becomes a point of dispute at the coffee pot on Sunday morning, in small group Bible studies and on the church Facebook page. I know plenty of pastors who dread this campaign season, because it tends to fuel dissension within a body that they’ve been called to lead in unity.

For better or worse, what gets said tomorrow night will have a significant impact on how American Christians think about immigration, with enduring ramifications for both public policy and how willing American evangelicals are to welcome, minister alongside and share the hope of the gospel with the immigrants within their own communities. In a recent Lifeway Research study, 45 percent of evangelical Christians acknowledged that the media, the views of their friends and family or the statements of elected officials were the top influence on their views of immigration – but less than one-quarter cited the Bible, their local church or the positions of national Christian leaders.

That’s why, if I had the opportunity to ask one question of presidential candidates (of any political party), I’d ask: “Would you commit to reading one Bible passage per day over the next forty days that relates to the theme of immigration, and to pray that God would give you his heart?”

That’s not an unreasonable invitation of candidates who, in almost all cases, publicly profess to be followers of Jesus. In some ways, it’s a much easier request to agree to than to affirm a specific policy position. But it could be transformative, because “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12).

Here’s my request of you: Would you join me in publicly inviting presidential candidates to take the Evangelical Immigration Table’s 40-day “I Was a Stranger” Bible-reading challenge?

Our hope is that candidates really will take us up on this – and, even if they don’t, that the public invitation will remind both them and fellow believers that there is a biblical perspective on immigration.

Would you pray with me the following:

  • That all who profess that God’s Word is their ultimate authority would truly look to the Bible as their primary guide as they consider how to interact with and speak about their immigrant neighbors
  • That spending time in the Scriptures would inoculate God’s people from being influenced by any unbiblical messages we might hear from politicians or media
  • That presidential candidates who profess to follow Jesus would take the time to prayerfully consider what the Scriptures say on this complicated topic, and that God’s Word would inform their rhetoric and policies
  • That pastors and church leaders would be equipped by the Holy Spirit to faithfully disciple their congregations through a season of political divisions, and that the public witness of the church in this season would draw many — both immigrants and native-born US citizens — to Jesus

If you’d like to join me in prayer for this presidential election season, and for both candidates’ and American Christians’ response to immigration within it, please join me tomorrow (Wednesday, August 23) at 4 PM ET/3 PM CT/2 PM MT/1 PT. Add this Zoom prayer call to your calendar here or join on Zoom tomorrow here.

And, please, don’t close out this message without adding your name to this public challenge to presidential candidates.

In Christ,

Mathew Soerens
National Director, Evangelical Immigration Table

P.S. We’d especially love to have evangelical pastors join this public challenge to reading the Bible. Would you consider forwarding this message on to one or two pastors whom you know, especially those in early caucus or primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina?

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