Have politicians and public authority figures ever been more derided? Perhaps, but not in my lifetime. We’d agree they need our prayers, but do we, in fact, pray for them? What does the Bible have to say?
“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 Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4 NIV11)
Paul wrote this. He had first-hand experience of the injustice of authorities. Yet, his perspective was pure. We could forgive him for a rant, a diatribe, a list of complaints. Take for example his illegal beating and imprisonment in Philippi (Acts 16.37). This might, in our day, have been followed by a twitter storm. But no. He acquires an apology and moves on. What is going on here?
Two Reasons to Pray for Authorities
Paul recognises that God wants all people to be saved. The appeal to pray is for “all people”. Paul goes on to mention “kings and all those in authority” for two reasons.
1. Firstly, they have more power to stand in the way of the spread of the gospel than other people. They also have the power to facilitate conditions favourable to the Gospel.
2. Second, they are often the last category of people we think to pray for. Unpopular decisions, questionable morality and insensitive pronouncements lead us to dislike them. Perhaps even hate them.
Jesus said this, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NIV11). If we are to pray for our enemies, then we can’t leave our kings and authorities out. No matter our differences.
1. Pray for those who influence your community: local councillors, your MP and the like
2. Pray for those who influence your country: parliamentarians, party leaders, kings, queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents.
3. Pray for those with global influence: world leaders, the secretary-general of the United Nations and leaders of other global organisations.
4. Pray for your enemies: the authorities you complain about
If we spent as much time praying for these people as grumbling about their decisions, we would see the Gospel spread more rapidly. Some of them might become followers of Jesus. We could find ourselves in a better spiritual and emotional place.
Pray for them by name. Do it personally, and do it in church gatherings. If you are a church leader, I urge you to call on members to pray in this way.
I believe I am called to pray for Baroness Dorothy Thornhill (Mayor of Watford), David Gauke (MP for where I live), my Queen, Theresa May, President Trump, Kim Jong-un, António Guterres – and others. Praying for them does not mean I agree with them. It simply means I acknowledge they are sons and daughters of God just as much as me.
Which kings and authorities do you pray for? What motivates you to do so? What points have I missed?
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.