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We should pray for politicians like a latter-day Wilberforce

Thought for the weekend

By Rev Gareth Burke

As you read this article today I suspect that the identity of the Prime Minister is now settled - unless of course the result of the general election was very close and discussions are taking place regarding the forming of a coalition.

Over these past weeks we have been swamped by political debate and many of us are now suffering from POS - Political Overkill Syndrome. Not that we should despise politics or those who are involved in that realm. To be a part of the political process and to be serving in the 'public square' is an honourable calling. The Bible has much to say about the state and those who are involved in the affairs of State (Romans 13) and they deserve our support and especially our prayers.

I have to confess to enjoying reading political biography in my spare time. I recently began reading William Hague's gripping biography of William Wilberforce. You will undoubtedly have heard of him. Regarded as a great social reformer he lived from 1759 to 1833 and sat as an MP in the House of Commons for almost 30 years.

A friend of William Pitt and well connected to many of the leading figures in the British political establishment of his time, Wilberforce headed up the Parliamentary campaign for the abolition of slavery for over 20 years. Ironically the Slavery Abolition Act was passed just three days before his death.

The question must be asked, however - what was the driving force or influence in his life? What motivated him? Having in his early life had some exposure to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Wilberforce, in his youth, turned away from these influences and adopted at Cambridge a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle enjoying cards, gambling and late night drinking sessions. But in his mid-20s things changed.

Largely through the reading of Philip Doddridge's 'The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul' he came to see that he was a sinner before God, who needed to turn from his sin and to trust, by faith, in Jesus Christ. By God's grace this is what he did.

He became a Christian and was driven in his public life by a desire to honour God, to obey his word and to show the love of God to others.

For politicians like this we must fervently pray.

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