As the United States has turned over its federal leadership, I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4:
“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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
It seems to be a universal truth that humans will devote themselves to gossip long before they’ll devote themselves to prayer. For every sentence spoken in prayer there are probably hundreds of sentences spoken in a non-edifying way. There’s something about humanity’s fallen nature that drives us to gripe rather than to praise, encourage, or build up.
Every four years, approximately half of Americans are specifically challenged as to their prayer lives; namely, can they follow Scripture’s mandate and pray for the candidate (now President) that they disliked so much? They are faced with the questions, “Can I recognize this candidate as my President? Will I pray for him?”
I am not so naive to think that all candidates will do all things to the public good and the glorification of God. I know that they won’t. Even if they were to have the best of intentions always, they wouldn’t get everything right. And if their intentions are evil . . . well, we better pray that God stays their hand.
It’s always struck me that Paul’s command to pray for public leaders was given in the context of the Roman Empire, when an emperor had the power to take a person’s life. That’s what happened to Paul a few years after he wrote 1 Timothy; Emperor Nero had him decapitated in AD67.
And yet, a few years before his execution, Paul told us to pray for those exact leaders who would terminate his life.
Paul couldn’t have made it more clear that we must pray for our leaders. In case there was any doubt, he painted with a broad prayer brush, using several of the common words for prayer. Supplicate. Pray. Intercede. Give thanks. Using four words back-to-back for prayer? That’s rare. Paul is getting our attention and telling us:
We cannot evade our responsibility to pray for our political leaders, even if we despise them.
And to drive home the clarity, he makes sure that Yes! We are to pray for political leaders: For kings (those in the highest office) and for ALL officials in high positions. It wouldn’t be off course for a Christian to pray for every key official in an administration, every Cabinet secretary, every Joint Chief of Staff, and every Supreme Court justice BY NAME.
And we pray for these leaders not just for their benefit but so that we may lead peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives. So that we are allowed to prosper and so that our relationships with our government are constructive and beneficial.
Please join me in prayer that our new administration would be righteous, godly, peaceful, loving, dignified, and just. And that those blessings would roll down upon We the People like a mighty wave.