How can Christians have a positive influence on American politics?
Within churches, Christian organizations, and across the media, God can raise up spokesmen who--from a prophetic, radical, and biblical standpoint--can lay hold of that which is only seen in part by Republicans, Democrats, and Independants. They can then gather those biblical components together into a whole and, leaving party distinctives aside, exalt that.
I'm not thinking there should be another party, just truth. It seems that the Christian church should not--as a church--join partisan politics. Rather, we should be speaking prophetically to issues that relate to what Christ's will is. Then we should just let the chips fall as they may. If it sounds Republican or Democratic or Independent, so be it.
Gather the issues together and meditate on them. Weigh them in the balances of the Bible. And then speak prophetically about them. That would probably do more for exalting Christ than it would for exalting any of the candidates, which is what we want to do anyway.
Ultimately we want to communicate--even while engaging in politics--that politics are not the main issue on this earth. Knowing the Creator is the main issue, as well as being reconciled with him and glorifying him in all that we believe and say and do. That's what the church needs to constantly be calling people to.
What about the importance of praying for those in positions of leadership?
Paul says that we are supposed to pray for those who are in authority. Some of the reasons people might not do that as much as they should is,
1) They feel like they are so small and that political leadership is too big to pray for.
In this case, people just need to get a bigger vision of the God who is listening to their prayers.
2) They feel that praying for anything would be partisan behavior. In other words, they don't know what to ask God to do for the president or vice-president.
We need to think through ways to pray for our leaders and ways to give our people words to pray. For example, "We pray, Lord, that our leader would have a humble demeanor and be open to truth, that he would be granted wisdom beyond his native capacities, and that he would make no snap judgments or knee-jerk reactions but take all factors into account. We pray that policies, procedures and laws would be put in place that would not hinder the gospel but give free reign to its spread."
We need to think of ways to pray, so that when people hear them they can join in. Otherwise they might just think that if they pray then they will be acting as a Republican or Democrat and that, therefore, there is no use in praying.