“1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” -1 Timothy 2:1-3
We live in an age of political spite. Even seemingly devout Christians have decided it’s okay to bash our nation’s leaders with reckless abandon. “I know I’m supposed to love our president, but…” or “I can’t wait to get those politicians (choose your party) out of office in the next election!” Yet these attitudes are directly opposed to God’s plan regarding our Christian view of our nation’s leaders.
First and foremost, the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2 commands us to pray for our governing leaders. In fact, just about every possible word for pray was used to communicate this truth. Further, we are not to pray for their demise. We are told that we pray in order that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” What does this mean? We pray for our leaders so we will will live in stable society that allows us to focus on worshiping God.
Yes, we are also called in other places to pray for the salvation of others and for the wisdom of our leaders. These areas are also important. The key is to pray, not attack our nation’s leaders, whether verbally or otherwise. And lest we forget, Paul wrote these words under the reign of King Nero, a fellow historically much more difficult to live under than any president in America’s history.
When it comes to our governing leaders, God’s Word speaks clearly on where we are to begin–in prayer.
Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of all 31,173 verses of the Bible at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.
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.
I was at a Wednesday night bible study the day after Bill Clinton was first elected president, and people were bummed. Our large, conservative, suburban church had lots of folks who were politically active. Some had won their races or been involved in winning campaigns, others had lost. But local and state elections were overshadowed by this unknown if charismatic Democrat who was about to lead the nation. “What are we to do about it?” many people were asking.
“We are going to pray for him,” answered one wizened old gent. “Right now.” And we gathered around him and did.
Sure, it helped us feel better. Sure, it might have even changed our attitudes toward Clinton*. But most importantly, we were doing what God told us to.
When Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy around 59ad, the Roman Empire had bigger problems than Bill Clinton could ever give the United States. The young emperor’s descent into madness had begun. That year, he ordered the execution of his own mother. Five years later, he would be burning Christians to light his gardens. It was a dangerous time to be a member of a weird little Judean cult that refused to worship Julio-Claudians, the family in authority over them all.
Still, Paul urged Timothy to pray for them:
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men, for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.
— 1Tim 2:1-3
That is the attitude we are commanded to take as well, regardless of who is in office. If we are happy with them, then we pray naturally from thankfulness. If we are unhappy or if they are unworthy, then Christ commanded us to pray for them anyway (Matt 5:44).
But who should we pray for? It’s not just the President, but all in authority. Your mayor and your county commission could use your prayers. We have churches here who pray each week for a different member of our Sheriff’s department. Even your children’s teachers and principals** qualify. Anyone who has authority over you or yours should be on your prayer list. Pray for your pastor. Pray for your priest, pope, or patriarch. Christians should never be at a loss for those to pray for.
What should we pray for on their behalf? Well, what do they need but lack? Obviously, there are plenty in authority who lack wisdom. There are plenty who lack perspective. There are many who lack knowledge of Christ and others who hate Him and hate His followers. Pray that God will soften their hearts. Pray that He will grant them wisdom. Ask God to provide them with godly counselors and influences. God can change hearts, minds, and times – we’ve all seen that. Prayer changes things, that’s why God has granted us the privilege.
We are not praying only because Paul commands us to. We may also expect to receive a real benefit: the ability to lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. Our prayers on behalf of leaders can give us the ability to live as we ought with a minimum of interference. We might live without harassment from busybody government officials and wannabe dictators. Praying for those in authority can go a long way toward giving us room to live godly lives.
Then it is up to us to live them.
* It is very hard to wish ill for a person you are earnestly praying for. Some can manage that level of cognitive dissonance, I suppose, but it’s surely rare.
** Assuming you don’t homeschool, which you should.
August 20, 2014
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
—1 Timothy 2:1-2
What the Church needs is more people praying for their leaders. It is all too easy to offer commentary, perspective, criticism, or words. It is another to get on our knees and pray. Would you join me today in praying for our church as our leaders gather to seek vision for Mars Hill moving forward? Would you join me in praying for THE Church globally, that God’s people would be unified around the Gospel and seeing lost people saved? Would you join me in praying for all of our pastors and leaders, that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the work of the ministry they are called to by God?
Jesus, I pray for Pastor Mark, Mars Hill Church, and all of our pastors, deacons, members, and leaders. I pray for the health of our church, that people would connect to Jesus in Community Groups this week, and that people would bring their friends this weekend to hear about Jesus and to fall more in love with Him. I pray for humility, repentance, and grace where it is needed and I ask that You would move in the hearts of the leaders of our church to do what You have called and empowered them to do.
Lord, I pray for Your Church in all places, that You would work mightily among your people. I pray that more people would meet Jesus and that more hearts would be opened, and lives changed as You move through Your Holy Spirit. Keep Your bride healthy, God. Keep Your people’s hearts tender toward Your truth, Your Word, and toward You. God, we desperately need You to be the center of our lives.
Jesus, I finally ask that You would work in all of the pastors and leaders across every local church around the world. Keep them humble, dependent on You, and willing to do whatever they are asked to do to faithfully serve You and to see people meet Jesus. Protect their hearts, their marriages, their families, and their congregations. I pray against Satan and his demons and their works and influence, that You would bring his devices to nothing and that You would advance Your Kingdom and Your Church in the face of all the evil that seems to be prevailing. Build Your Church, Lord and keep us faithful to You. Keep us ready to do Your will and to follow Your Lead.
In Jesus’ beautiful name I pray. Amen.