Prayers are in order for new Catholic Pope
The white smoke wafted through the damp air near St. Peter’s Basilica as millions of the Catholic faithful celebrated the selection of their earthly spiritual father, the Pope. The leader of 1.2 billion Catholics should be in the prayers of every Christian.
The head of the Roman Church has a very public ministry with great private musings on where and how to lead so many.
Beset with various scandals and voices seeking contemporary change, Pope Francis will need every ounce of Holy Spirit anointing available to him.
From the meager beginnings of the New Testament church, the body of Christ has always had to deal with external forces seeking to “change” the church. St. Paul had his detractors and opposers, so the church, as early as 325 A.D., began to deal with major controversies that went to the heart of Christology and the very nature of God.
While the Gospel spread across the world, Bishops and the church at large sought to effectively preach the Gospel and hold to faithful apostolic doctrine. And to this day, many of the same issues still seek to water down the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This Pope will not inherit a church that does not wrestle with these issues as well. And this is why we should and must pray for him. There are some issues that are simply irreconcilable. Many would have us to recognize “two integrities” with regards to some of the more blatant issues in the Christian faith. But I for one hope and pray that the Catholic Church, with this new Pope, will hold to the “like precious faith once delivered to the saints.”
We are asked, in Romans 13, to pray for secular leaders. Spiritual leaders are to be given “double honor” as Paul instructed. Of course one of the challenges is praying for those with whom we disagree. For non-Catholics, it may seem a bit of a stretch to pray for the Pope.
But in a time of great cultural pressure to divert from the faith, more than ever we should pray for the faithful to stay faithful. Jesus asked, in Luke 18,” When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Not abstract faith or faith as to whether your car will start in cold weather, but saving, regenerative faith. This is the faith that leads to salvation and redemption.
The Church of God has and always will be challenged by external forces. The list of proclaimed heresies is long and varied. Ecumenical councils have been convened to address them and the challenges will not go away. The Church of England, The Catholic Church, a host of denominations in America is facing challenges that must be faced with clarity, determinative ecclesiastical will and fidelity to Scripture.
This Pope will face these challenges as well and especially from within his own ranks.
Faced with a growing number of American catholic politicians and judges that visibly and outspokenly oppose catholic doctrine, this pope will need resolve and spiritual insight to lead. Jesus prayed in John 17 for the church “to be one.” This is something that seems impossible given the cultural and ecclesiastical infighting we see, but this is why Jesus Christ prayed the prayer as the High Priest of the church.
The call for oneness is so great that God in the flesh had to pray this prayer. I do not presume to know how this will happen but I am confident that it will before the return of the Lord. Will it be a small remnant, will there be a great world-wide revival or will the earth go through a devastating disaster before it will happen? No one can really answer this. And as Jesus said,” No one knows the day or the hour.”
But what we can do is pray for every faithful Christian to stay firmly on solid spiritual ground. It is my prayer that every Catholic be a devout catholic and hold to the moral compass revealed by their church. It is my prayer that the Word of God dwell in every Christian’s heart richly and uncompromisingly.
There are many who do not agree with the Bishop of Rome’s theology. But what we can agree on is that those in positions of great leadership need prayer. In fact, we would all benefit to pray, “Lord