“There’s such great excitement in just praying quietly and seeing the results.”
John, what does it mean to be a prayer partner?
For us, praying together begins with being together. We’re together every Tuesday and every Thursday morning. Occasionally, we’ll have a breakfast or dinner with just the two of us together. When we travel, we’re always together. Tony and I are equals. Tony has never treated me as his assistant or inferior. We are both doing the work of God as He has called us. Jesus is our leader, and we both report to Him.
Tony, what advice would you have for someone considering a career in politics?
Do it. A lot of people think politics is rough and dirty. We need good people. There’s a great quote I always say. Martin Luther said (paraphrasing), “we need to send our good people into the ministry our best into politics.”
Sometimes when a constituent would come in angry to my office. I would pray for them in a subtle way. I would notice this would quiet them down. You can be praying for a situation while someone is mad or angry or crying, and God will honor that. He’ll enter into that.
Tony, how did your relationship with Jesus influence your career as a congressman and ambassador?
It gave me focus. It changed almost every aspect of my life. It changed some of my voting habits. It gave me great focus on the core. Because of Him and the institutions I was involved with, He gave me a focus on the poor which is unusual because I’ve never been poor.
John and Tony, if you could do it all over again, what would you tell a 20 year old version of yourself?
Tony – I didn’t become a believer until I was a 36. Become a believer very early in life. I would tell myself to have a very sincere relationship in Jesus. This starts with the word.
John – I think curiosity is a wonderful trait centered in Jesus. Every moment you will learn something from every person you encounter. It’s a beautiful thing of to love one another. You could have a person with an IQ of 10 or 200 and you learn something from them. Love forces you to look at things from their perspective. When you’re smarter than others, arrogance really clouds the issue of the love of Jesus. Young people who are really gifted begin to think they’re somebody. One of the things God really looks at is Isaiah 66:1-2 – what kind of house are you building for me? Humility, contrite spirit, and fear of the Lord must be your foundation.
Tony, what can an everyday citizen do about the problem of hunger?
I think people need to look around them. It’s what Mother Teresa said to me once, “do the thing that’s in front of you.” Not everyone can go to Calcutta, but everyone can look around their neighborhood. If everybody took care of the problem that was around them, whether it was the hunger or economic needs or emotional hurting, then half the stuff we do in the government we wouldn’t need to do.
John, how do you pray?
There are quite a few ways that I like to pray. I pray with a sense of constant cleansing of what’s going on. I’ve also been influenced by E. Stanley Jones who’s taught me that when submitted to the Spirit internally, all things will be in harmony, and the outside will begin to manifest the inside. When you’re praying without ceasing, people will come into your life, and divine coincidences will come into your life. When you see things in a different light like that, it’s like everything is being harmonized by the Holy Spirit.
I pray in the morning for family and thank the Lord. I also pray the Lord’s prayer. I’m also involved in a number of Bible studies with various people. Knowing scripture is very important. All truth comes from God which is directly expressed in the word. The Holy Spirit will give you revelation in the moment. A supernatural life is simply an ordinary life where Jesus has laid hold of you.
John, how do you approach listening to God?
I spend a lot of quiet time. Jesus was never in a hurry. There are so many people who say that they’re busy. When you say you’re busy, you focus in on yourself and how important you are. In our society, being busy means you’re important, and you’re getting things done. If we’re to follow Jesu and be like Him, we cannot be in a hurry. When I read The Economist and other publications, I’m always thinking about how does this relate to the Kingdom of God. I will pray through it as I read. How have you seen God work in your failures and shortcomings?
I see it everyday, He’s this incredibly loving father who is throwing a lavish feast for me and inviting me back to it on Monday when I screw up and then again on Wednesday and then on Saturday…You get the point. It’s actually in my failures and shortcomings (of which there are many) where his Strength is made known. It gets back to this idea that my brokenness is heavenly currency. It’s a beautiful concept that is liberating.