• Election day announced - Call to prayer

    Posted by John

    5 August, 2013

    I’m no political junkie, but there are a couple of political boffins in our office who are very excited today! If you haven't heard, an election has been called for September 7. The boffins will be colouring their electorate maps in red and blue and watching ABC News in their lunch breaks!

    As the election approaches, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. It’s been a tough year for the Movement to End Poverty as we have challenged the Government to finish well as the 2015 deadline for the MDGs approaches. The evidence that either of the major parties is wholeheartedly committed to a generous and effective aid program is less than convincing.

    On the Government side, we’ve seen three major cuts to aid spending in the last 15 months – the latest coming last Friday as Treasurer Chris Bowen announced further cuts to aid totalling $879 million over the next four years in response to reduced revenue projections and the increased costs of their asylum seeker policies. Each time there has been pressure on the budget, the people who manage the nation’s money have raided the aid budget to find savings. On top of that, we’ve seen record diversions of aid away from overseas programs toward the rising costs of asylum seekers and refugees.

    This would seem the perfect time for the Coalition to distinguish themselves from these cuts and diversions – to create a point of distinction – to commit themselves to what might be called a compassionate conservatism. They have challenged the government on the diversion of aid, highlighting the inappropriateness of using funds designated for one purpose on an entirely different purpose. Yet sadly, they have remained silent on a timetable to increase aid to 0.5% of gross national income. A commitment without a timetable is really no commitment at all. And up until this point, we’ve not seen a comprehensive aid policy come from Ms Bishop’s office.

    We will have plenty more to say to all the major parties on these issues over the next five weeks, but as for our initial response, we are convicted that our first act of this election campaign should be to pray.

    We have reasons to be concerned, but prayer helps us put everything into perspective. Are you angry at the latest cut in funding to the world’s poorest? Frustrated at the tone of the current political debate?

    They’re the feelings I have. I’ve been convicted to express those feelings first in prayer.

    Prayer is an intentional step into the presence of God. And in God’s presence our concerns and feelings are handed over to the great I AM. We get perspective. We see the part we have to play in light of the part that God promises to play.

    Over the next week, will you set aside time to pray with me?

    Pray as you feel led. Pray for God’s will to be done. Pray that the policies of our future government will prioritise the needs of the poorest in our world – the marginalised, the oppressed and the downtrodden. Pray that God will turn our feelings of frustration into fruitful action in the weeks to come.

    You may like to visit our prayer page for more ideas.

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    John Beckett is Micah Challenge Australia's National Coordinator.