When circumstances beyond my control mount, I say, “Jesus, help!” My friend prays this handy prayer, and I, too, have come to rely on these words when language falls short. During the election season, I prayed this prayer far more than I did before.
On Election Day, I was excited to vote. I pictured millions of Americans waiting in long lines. The thought made me feel connected to citizens living thousands of miles away. I smiled to myself.
Though I was excited, I was anxious. “Jesus, help!” I prayed. “Jesus, please keep us safe at the polls. Let the rumors of terrorism be rumors. Bring wisdom as my countrymen cast their votes at the local, state and national levels.”
As I stood in line at my polling station, I prayed again. “Jesus, help! I love my country, but I am scared. What’s going to happen to us? Forgive us for our sins! Please don’t leave us!” I thought about the gravity of the election and listened to strangers talk among themselves. The line crept forward until I reached the voting area. I was nervous. Voting meant the campaign season was officially over. What would happen tonight? The next day? I was not confident my countrymen, the world, and I were ready.
I handed a polling officer my driver’s license. He waved me forward, and I stood near another polling officer who impatiently told me it was my turn. “If you see an open booth, move up.”
Outside of prayer, my main role in two years of a volatile campaigning would conclude in a moment. I walked to a voting booth and inserted my voting card. I checked boxes for the president, local officials, and amendments to the Virginia Constitution. “Jesus, help!” I prayed to myself. “These are the best selections I know to make. I can do no more. Help, please!”
I continued to pray these two words as I sat at my desk on Tuesday afternoon. As I answered emails and worked on projects, my mind wandered through the different time zones. I thought of the voters living in those regions and of the people waiting in line. I thought of the people who chose not to vote. “Jesus, help!”
That night as the votes were counted and reporters analyzed, predicted, and announced results the way sports anchors recount once-in-a-lifetime games like the one between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, I prayed, “Jesus, help!” I knew that no matter who I voted for and no matter who our nation chose to represent us to the world, only Jesus could help. Only Jesus could bring peace and restoration and hope where there are none. Only Jesus could restore the division that seems to be present in nearly every corner of America.
I didn’t stay up until the early hours of Wednesday morning to see the outcome; I went to sleep because I quickly grew tired of obsessing over something I could not control. I woke up far earlier than I normally do and immediately checked my phone. I had a record number of news notifications from every major news outlet.
“Jesus, help!” I prayed. I sat on the edge of my bed and prayed for our country. Then, I got ready to go to early morning prayer at my church.
Since Wednesday, I continue to pray this short prayer because I do not know what else to pray. When I am confused, I pray. When I worry, I pray. When I cannot believe what I read and hear, I pray. When I feel myself get sucked into the black hole that is social media and the news, I pray and turn the news off.
The aftermath of the election that reverberates throughout our country indicates that we will experience some changes that we did not expect in the coming months and years. I imagine that many of these events (whatever they may be) will test our faith. But one thing that will not change is the faithful prayer I learned from my friend: “Jesus, help!” No matter what people say, what the media reports, and which choices are made, these are the words in which I trust.