Internationally known evangelist and author John Bevere is urging Christians to refrain from becoming consumed with fear and anxiety this election season, and instead focus on praying for those in authority.
"One thing I'm seeing in traveling all over the United States is this election is consuming the thoughts of Christians nationwide," the 57-year-old "Driven By Eternity" told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "So many people are up in arms, and I want to ask them, 'Are you spending as much time praying for this nation as you are watching the news?'"
He continued, "The Bible commands us to pray for our leaders; it doesn't command us to watch the news and get hung up on drama. If we as believers spent more time praying for those for authority instead of getting so caught up in the election that it consumes our conversation, I believe we would see a turnaround in our nation. Our nation will not be turned around by getting the right candidates into office - our nation will be turned around when the people of God start living a transformed life."
Last week, the American Psychological Association reported that 52 percent of U.S. adults say the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, prompting the APA to dub this phenomenon "Election Stress Disorder." The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found that the stress is bipartisan, affecting 55 percent of registered Democrats and 59 percent of registered Republicans.
Bevere, who with his wife, Lisa, founded Messenger International, admitted that he found himself consumed with anxiety during the 2000 presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush. As he obsessively watched the news, he felt the Holy Spirit gently chide him.
"The Holy Spirit told me, 'Stop watching CNN, CNBC, and Fox News, and get your mind back on the eternal and start praying,'" the pastor recalled. "And so what happened was, I noticed I entered into a peace, into a joy, because my mind was on the right thing."
Once a Christian takes on an "eternal perspective," they become more concerned with building the Kingdom, not about the political election, Bevere explained.
"What we think is, every four years, we're going to get candidates who will change things," he said. "In reality, God says He will change a nation and heal our land when His people humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways."
The pastor, who in addition to being a best-selling author is a regular op-ed contributor for outlets such as FoxNews.com, also underscored the importance of voting on November 8th - even though many Christians feel neither major party candidate is a good option.
"There are so many Christians who said to me, 'I'm not going to vote, I don't want to vote for either candidate for president,'" Bevere said. "My response is, 'If you don't vote, then you give your voice up and give it to someone who doesn't know God who may elect the worse of two evils.'"
He continued: "And so here's the thing I would say to every Christian: You may not like either candidate, but you're responsible to pick the better of the two that will lead our nation into a place that the church can continue to do its work of building the kingdom. On a national level, on a state level, and on a local level, all we have to do is pick out the candidate that is the better of the two - not the candidate we wanted to be in there."
The pastor concluded: "Every one of us has a responsibility as a citizen of the US to vote and be a voice for who we think is the best candidate to lead our nation. That is something that has been given to us as a gift from our forefathers who loved and feared God. We have a responsibility to pray and to vote."