As our nation finds itself in yet another highly divisive election season, our tendency can be to draw firm lines between ourselves based on which candidates we support, and that can in turn lead to personal dislike for one another, anger towards those who lead, and eventually division.
As Christians, we are to live in a fine balance; standing for that which is true while seeking unity amongst ourselves whenever possible, standing firm in the faith while showing grace to those who do not, holding our leaders accountable while praying for their wisdom and well-being.
We are to learn from the words of Ezekiel 22:30, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”
We are to be those who stand in the gap, who lift up our nation with all it favors and faults before the throne of God, and pray that He continues to work in our midst.
Scriptures to Pray For Ourselves:
I Timothy 2:1-2 – I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
I Peter 2:17 – Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
>Romans 13:1 – Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Jeremiah 29:7 – Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
II Chronicles 7:14 – if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Scriptures to Pray for our Leaders:
>Psalms 2:10-11 – Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
>Proverbs 11:14 – For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
>Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
>Job 12:23-25 – He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
>Proverbs 2:1-8 – My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2) turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— 3) indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4) and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5) then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6) For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7) He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8) for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
May we be faithful, informed and thoughtful when praying and talking to others about our politics, and as we ask for God’s wisdom and righteousness to be evident in our nation’s policies and leaders.
Like clockwork each November, elections are held and leaders are selected by their constituents. From the president on down, you might ask, ‘Why pray for our elected leaders? I didn’t vote for half of them!’
A better question than “Why pray” might be rephrased as “How can I pray for the president and others, despite political differences?”
The Bible offers sound direction on why every Christian should pray for the president, the Congress on down to your state and local officials. The Apostle Paul was steadfast when he urged “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone,“ in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, including “kings and all those in authority, that we may live peacefully and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
By offering prayer for our president and others, we are working to establish a peaceful and more holy nation; I can’t think of any Christian who wouldn’t want that!
Why Pray for the President, Other Leaders?
The Bible also talks about the importance of showing respect for our leaders and their need for our prayers.
Vowing to kill David after becoming jealous of his relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s life was spared twice by David, as he respected Saul’s position of leadership (1 Samuel 24:5-6, 1 Samuel 26:9). As David later became king over all of Israel in 1 Chronicles 10, his men buried Saul and his sons in their home of Jabesh, giving proper burial to their former leader.
Romans 13:1 directs “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”
The author of Hebrews encouraged Christians on the behalf of leaders then and now to “pray for us, for our conscience to be clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do,” (13:18-19 NLT).
What to Pray for Our Leaders
When praying for our leaders, consider what the Bible offers as the marks of a good leader:
- Obedience (Exodus 6:9-12)
- Accountability (1 Chronicles 21:8)
- Courage (Nehemiah 6:10-13)
- Willingness to Serve (Matthew 20:26-27)
- Seeks Out Good Advisers (Proverbs 11:14)
By praying our leaders are obedient to God’s will for our nation, accountable for his actions, courageous in times of pressure at home and abroad, willing to serve for the good of their constituents, and one who seeks out good advisers, we can help influence our leaders to make solid, informed and Godly decisions.
Regardless of politics, we should choose to show love for our leaders as children of God and practice intercession, whether our views are in conflict or accord with those for whom we are praying.
By choosing to pray for all leaders, we put into motion the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and can make a positive, God-directed difference in our communities and country today:
“f my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
A Visit to Beijing
This past week I finally got to travel to Beijing. It was wonderful seeing all of the historical sites; I can’t describe how amazing the Great Wall really is. Even the newer buildings erected for the Olympics had incredible architecture. I really loved the city.
While in Beijing the Russian president came to visit the Chinese leader Xi Jinxing. Tiananmen was decorated with Chinese and Russian flags. The Chinese brought out the military parade and fired a 21 gun salute for Putin. Since I was in Beijing during this meeting I pondered what if I got to meet these men.
What If I Met World Leaders?
What would I do if I got to meet Putin and JinPing? For the little we know of these two men in the West, most would not consider them following Christian principles. Some would consider their policies or governments actively against Christians. Would I use that opportunity to let these men know how I feel?
I absolutely would! I might never have another chance to be in front of such powerful men. Maybe God had put me in front of them specifically to let them know how He feels about them… how much He loves them.
What I Would Pray For World Leaders
I would want to pray for them and bless their leadership. I would pray for wisdom to lead such powerful countries into prosperity. I would pray they would have favor with other countries to promote peace and good trade. I would pray that they would know that God was near them, protecting them, and empowering their decisions.
Thinking through this fantasy interaction I developed a deeper love for these men. God put them into these positions of power. He had implanted in them all they need to successfully run their countries. The can safely lead their people into a place were all will go well with them.
I wanted them know I would love them and pray for them. I wanted them to know that I wanted them to succeed at everything they put their hands to. I wanted to be so trusted by them because they knew I was for them and don’t have an agenda.
Donald Trump Picks His Religious Advisors
It was interesting that during that same time Donald Trump listed his group of religious advisors. I wonder how these religious leaders would advise this man seeking the Presidency of the United States. Would they point out all his failings? Would they steer him to be someone he is not to make him more appealing to Christians? Or, would they deeply and profoundly love him?
Can We Trust God With the Leaders He Sets Up?
I feel I need to trust God more with the rulers He establishes. It is not to say these people are wonderful or completely following God’s desires. We all make mistake. We all have false beliefs of what should be right. Can we trust God to take care of us in the midst of other people’s mistakes?
I can have opinions about what politicians should do or be like, but I need to know where my responsibility ends. I can have an opinion about who Trump or Hillary designate as their religious advisors, but I don’t have a right to actually choose them. I may have an opinion about Chinese foreign policy, but I don’t have a right to make that policy. God has gifted those leaders to make those decisions, and as I respect their decisions, I can lean in on God to protect me from any bad decision.
Let’s Pray for Our Leaders
Let’s pray for the world leaders. Let’s ask God for His love for them. They really do have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They don’t need our anger or attacks; they need our love and prayers.
“It is a great privilege, as well as our responsibility, to pray for our government leaders.” — Billy Graham
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” —1 Timothy 2:1–3, NIV
- Petition means to ask. God urges us to ask, and He is pleased when we do.
- Prayer is talking to God, anywhere, anytime, in any way.
- Intercession is praying for someone else. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ constantly intercedes for us (see Romans 8:34. Hebrews 7:25), so it pleases God when we intercede for someone else—including heads of state and others in authority—because we are doing what Christ does.
- Thanksgiving always pleases God, and the Bible specifically tells us to include thanksgiving when praying for those in authority.
We are to pray respectfully for leaders. “Show proper respect to everyone, … fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17). We are to pray with the clear understanding that government authority is established by God. “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1). We also pray knowing that God’s Word says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1, NASB).
WHAT TO PRAY
You can pray using words and thoughts from Scripture.
- Open the heart to hear and respond to the Gospel message if he/she does not know you. Acts 16:14, Luke 24:45
- Help to accept wise counsel. Proverbs 11:14; 15:22
- Teach to trust in You. Psalm 21:7
- Protect from the influence of the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
- Give discretion, foresight, and understanding in making decisions. 1 Chronicles 22:12
- Generously answer his/her prayer for wisdom. James 1:5
- Pour out Your Spirit on his/her leadership. Proverbs 1:23
- Deliver from opinions contrary to Your Word. Psalm 119:105
- Guard from harm, and bless and protect his/her family. Psalm 21:11; Ezra 6:10
- Enable to carry out his/her duties with humility talking to God about those in authority, toward You and toward others. 1 Peter 5:5
- Give the courage to do the right thing even when urged to do the wrong thing. Proverbs 2:11–15
- Grant a tender heart of compassion toward those he/she leads and serves. Colossians 3:12
WHO TO PRAY FOR
Suggestion: Each day, pick one category and pray for one or two individuals in that category.
Cabinet members ________________________
Congressional representatives ______________
Supreme Court _________________________
Military leaders _________________________
State legislators _________________________
Police chief, sheriff ______________________