So often we see people who appear downtrodden, or seem disadvantaged by those who are in power. It’s not often either that we actually see truth spoken to those who seem to hold powerful positions. However, the Bible gives us keys on how to speak truth to power. And one of the best ways to begin is to start in prayer—it’s how many Biblical heroes began.
Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.
—Psalms 10:17, 18
Start with humility
One of my favorite examples of speaking truth to power happens in a story that involves healing of leprosy in the Old Testament: II Kings, Chapter 5. Naaman is a very powerful captain of the Syrian Army, but he has leprosy. He goes to the prophet Elisha for healing, but Naaman gets angry when Elisha tells him to dip himself in the Jordan River rather than Syrian rivers. Plus, Naaman is put off by the fact that he has to do something — dip himself in the river — when he expected Elisha to do something astonishing and “strike his hand over the place and recover the leper (II Kings 5:11)”
Unknown heroes in the story approach Naaman. I think these unnamed servants of Naaman must have gathered up a lot of courage, and with great humility, said to him, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? (II Kings 5:13)” This humility required a lot of courage by these unknown helpers who spoke truth to power fearlessly.
Protest? Turn to God in prayer
In a media rich world it may seem that the best way to reach people is though talking, posting, or protesting. Don’t get me wrong — these are all valid steps. For me, starting my protest for any unjust circumstance through prayer always leads my feet to the right path. By turning to God quietly and listening for peaceful guidance and uplifting ideas, I find this has helped me find the best ways to speak to truth to power. In my own experience I have been led to talk to deans, Church officials, state congressmen, and other ways. All which had lasting and healing outcomes.
Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God’s gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind.
—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.1
Let God lead the way
True humility starts with knowing who actually holds power. Starting from the basis that God is the only power enables us to trust God and know that God is opening the way—for us and for all who are facing disadvantaged circumstances. Knowing that God, divine Principle, is doing all and is fully omnipotent and omniscient, can help us trust that God is not just speaking to those wanting social justice, but that God is speaking to those who seem to hold a lot of sway—and that God is leading all of us toward improved circumstances that bless all.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
—I Timothy 2:1-4
God hears your call—be sure to listen for His
Jesus knew that God heard his call—always. Yes, Jesus is the Son of God, but he also acknowledged that he’s the Son of man. So God’s power and presence on earth wasn’t just because of the divinity that Jesus expressed — it was because Jesus was proving to us that God is only a force for good, divine Love. Divine Love tenderly cares for each of us. With this fact in mind it’s important that we know God is also guiding us, so listening for His call is equally important. Knowing this helps avoid the belief that we’re just pleading to a God who is “somewhere up there.” Being humble enough to listen teaches us to trust God’s power is governing all.
For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour:
Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
—Isaiah 43:3 (to :), 4-7