I remember the first time I cast my vote for an election.

It was when I voted for myself to win the post of house captain at my school.

When I think of it now, it is hard to believe I had the confidence to stand for the elections. I was short, unpopular, unknown, and by all high school political standards, unimpressive.

Yet I remember standing in front of all the Satya house students, giving them a reason to vote for me. I gave a short speech and took questions from the audience. Someone asked about whether I was too short for the role.

I replied by saying, “It is not the height of a person that matters but the heights that they can go to.”

In true political fashion, I had stolen this cute quote from my competition.

Earlier I confided in him about feeling insecure about being short. He was gracious enough to encourage me with those words.

In true Christian fashion, I confessed my plagiarism to him and he was amused.

He was much taller than me but that is not why he won. He was simply the better candidate.

The last time I cast my vote for an election was on Sunday afternoon.

It was an election for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi—who govern the provision of civic services to the people of Delhi.

The Affairs of the City

Politics comes from a word that means “the affairs of the city.”

I have lived in Delhi since 1983; not too interested in politics for most of the time.

As far as elections went, I always felt there were enough people in the city to cast a vote. What difference would my vote really make?

Most elections are won by more than one vote. Surely nobody will miss my solitary vote. Certainly, someone else will compensate for my absence.

In this way, I justified my indifference.

But growing in Christ, studying God’s Word, and seeing God’s world gives you a growing burden for the people in the place where you live.

Casting a vote undermines our indifference and self-centeredness. It reaffirms our spiritual responsibility to the place where God has placed us.

I remember how I felt after the first time I voted in a real election. Each time since, I have felt the same way.

I walk out with a sense of belonging, empowerment, and gratification. This is not merely for participating in an election. 

In the act of voting, I sense God’s pleasure for my participation in the answer to my prayers for the city.

My Prayer for the City

Delhi is a beautiful beast. The city is a feast for the eyes but it is also a stressor for the soul. It is a delight to the senses and a heavy burden on the mind. This place can tease you with its wonders and troll you with its wickedness.

Like all global cities of the world, it is a composite blend of beauty and brokenness.

I want so much for the city of Delhi, it is hard to put into words. So I have put it in a prayer.

Today, it is common for young people in Delhi to think, “I can’t wait to grow up and get out of here so I can go live in New York.”

My prayer is that in fifty years, it will be common for young people in cities like New York to think, “I can’t wait to grow up and get out of here so I can go live in New Delhi.”

In some ways, this is already happening. But visitors still see India as an “exotic” place and come here for an “out of the ordinary” experience.

I want the Delhi to come to be a land of creativity, beauty, justice, opportunity, peace, unity, and wisdom.

More broadly, I want India to be a place of inexpressible beauty, uncommon technological innovation, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and efficient law & order.

I want our country to be a trading place for the free exchange of ideas, a champion for human equality & dignity, a land of unmatched opportunity for anyone with a good idea and a great work ethic.

Imagine if Delhi were the safest place in the world for a woman, the epicentre of human creativity, full of people who are known for their integrity, compassion, incorruptibility, and generosity of spirit.

Only God can answer that prayer.

The Church in the City

A vote can affect an election but what if prayer can change the course of history?

My heart longs for the world to get a preview of the glory of the new creation through the redemption of the city of Delhi.

Only the church can give people a preview of what it is like when Jesus rules in the hearts of his people, who stand firm in the one Spirit and strive together as one for the faith of the gospel (Phil 1:27).

The least we can do as citizens is to vote in every election to influence the affairs of the city. But the best we can do as Christians is to intercede in every location to alter the course of history.

The early church was a minority in the Roman empire. They did not have a vote. But they had a prayer, a message, and a living hope in a risen Messiah (1 Pet. 1:3-4).

When our hearts are marked by indelible grace, our fingers will be marked by indelible ink, and our prayers will be full of wordless groaning (Rom. 8:26-27).

Jesus carries us in his heart so we can carry our nations in our hearts.