(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
The Faith & Politics Institute, which serves hundreds of members of Congress and congressional staff by offering experiential pilgrimages, reflection groups, retreats and public forums, is calling on Americans of all faiths to join together and pray for the new Congress and for the start of Barack Obama's second term as U.S. President.
"This call to prayer is a commitment to pray daily from January 3 to January 21 for increased respect and civility in the political square, Elizabeth L. McCloskey, President and CEO of the Faith and Politics Institute said in an email to The Christian Post.
"The prayer is focused especially on political leaders, in the hope of supporting and empowering them to take the lead in setting a different tone."
The organization encourages American church leaders to pray both for the new Congress, which convened on Jan. 3, and for President Obama, whose Inauguration ceremony is on Jan. 21.
The organization say in a press release that "excessive political polarization is harming America," and people need to pray daily for greater civility in the political realm.
As suggestions for how people can direct their prayers, the Institute offered that Americans pray for leaders to have patience and respect for one another; to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry; to refrain from using inflammatory language; to avoid attacking the character of others; to reject behavior which demonizes political adversaries; to put aside ego, pride and bitterness; to show humility and to pray for one another, including those with opposing views.
The organization reminds America's leaders that differences of opinion should not be allowed to polarize them, and that "a spirit of respect and the desire to find solutions that serve" must prevail.
The Faith & Politics Institute shared that this new prayer initiative grew out of the "Better Angels Summit," which it hosted in June 2012, that brought together faith leaders from different denominations to seek common ground.
"Many of them formed prayer partnerships," The Institute says. One such partnership referred to Peg Chemberlin of the National Council of Churches and Pierre Bynum of the Family Research Council, who the organization says helped inspire this national call to prayer.
"Joining in daily prayer with fellow Americans is a simple act that can have great power," the organization concluded.
The prayer directed toward Congress and President Obama is not to be confused with The National Day of Prayer, which is held on the first Thursday of every May and was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress.
While the National Day of Prayer also seeks to energize America's political leaders, it exists to encourage every individual to seek personal repentance and prayer, and to mobilize Christians and the community at large to turn their hearts and minds to God.