Pray for Your Leaders
“Shocking…incredible…upsetting…worrisome…disbelief…optimistic…I don’t care…exactly what we needed…the worst possible outcome…what do I do now?”
Whatever your reaction to the results of the 2016 election, Christians are strongly urged to do one thing – pray. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 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, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.
Be honest – how many hours have you spent praying for our president to be? Now – weigh that against how many jokes you’ve made about them, or the jokes others made that you’ve laughed at. The truth is, many of us have made jokes, laughed at, and despaired over the possibilities of this election more than we have prayed over it. Attitudes like this are in direct opposition to what the bible urges a Christ-follower to be.
In 1 Timothy 2, when Paul urges Timothy, he uses the word ‘parakaleō’ which can mean to call to one’s side, beg, and to teach. Paul is begging and teaching us to walk side by side in prayer for our leaders. We have to stop poking fun at our politicians and replace that deplorable act with building each other, and yes, even outsiders, up in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:11). For too long, the leaders of our country – especially the ones we don’t like – have walked alone without the prayers of the Church holding them up. Let us stop that trend now.
Next, Paul expresses four things we are to pray for when praying for our leaders:
First, we are to express our supplications on behalf of our leaders to God. A supplication is simply a want or a desire. One of our sins is that, deep down, we simply lack the desire for our leaders to know God, to do His will, and to allow us to lead lives that honor God. Our prayers, or lack thereof, for our leaders, reveal our real desires. Those dark parts of our hearts need to be repented of and changed. We need to pray that God changes our desires for our leaders before we can even pray correctly for them. What do you really want from our leaders?
Second, we are called out to pray for them. When you pray, you’re setting something apart in your heart and then telling God that that is important to you. If we lack prayer for our leaders, it shows that we don’t think that the leaders that God has raised up for us (Daniel 2:21, Psalm 75:7) are important. Notice, the bible doesn’t ever justify not praying for a leader because we don’t like them, or because we didn’t vote for them.
Third, we are to pray in an intercessory manner. Intercessory prayer is to meet with God and converse with Him. Conversations that are only one way aren’t conversations, they’re lectures. How often do you lecture God about the leaders that He’s raised up? Instead, what you should do is have a two way conversation with God expressing your desires for our leaders, but also listening to His desires for you and for them.
Finally, we are to offer up thanksgivings to God for our leaders – giving thanks to God. Again, notice that this is to be made for “…all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). How do we offer up thanks and genuine gratitude when we don’t like our leaders or what is happening in our country? We do so with the comfort of knowing that God’s sovereign hand is at work in the heart of the King He has raised up. Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will”. The President of the United States of America has a heart. That heart is in God’s hand. God can and will turn that heart any way He wishes for His glory and subsequently for our good (Romans 8:28).
Because of the reality of the gospel, we know that the gospel is for everyone – even our leaders and politicians. We pray trusting this to be true and trusting that the gospel can and will change hearts. Taking time out of our day to pray for our country’s leaders demonstrates that our hope is in something far beyond a strong economy and policy changes. We profess our hope and trust in Christ when we pray for our leaders. We trust that he will affect policies, votes, and more importantly, hearts.
During the next few weeks prepare your heart to change, and seek God for how your heart needs to change in regards to our leaders. They need the prayers of the Church.