“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 2:2
Paul was a Pharisee – a religious ruler. In fact, he called himself a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” (Philippians 3:5). Pharisees knew all about the practice of prayer. Unfortunately, they did not have a universal outlook on their prayers; they primarily focused on praying for the nation of Israel.
In his encouragement to Timothy, Paul makes a bold statement that prayer, in various forms, should be made for all men, and urged this young pastor to pray for those in authority. Godless Emperor Nero was on the throne at that time. Yet, the believers were supposed to pray for him?
What a difficult and different approach to governmental authority. Even if we disagree, we are to pray for those who rule the daily affairs of our lives.
The early church had been accused of acting against the decrees of Caesar and having another king, Jesus Himself (Acts 17:7). Their enemies effectively accused them of dissatisfaction with the ruling parties. Yet, Paul encouraged these early believers to look to God as the One who had placed these men in authority (Romans 13:1-7).
If I disagree with the president, shouldn’t I voice my concern? Maybe you should pray first. If I’m being mistreated because of government intervention, shouldn’t I protest or sign a petition? Maybe you should lift up the ruler in prayer, thank God for them, and willingly subject yourself to their leadership – because God has allowed them to rule and has placed them in their position.
We are encouraged to pray for “kings” – those ruling heads of state and CEOs of our government. We pray for those who represent us to the world at large. And we are encouraged to pray for those “who are in authority” – those who are subordinate rulers, regional leaders, and local officials. We pray for those who protect and provide for us on a daily basis.
So how should we pray for those in authority?
- Pray that they would have wisdom. This was Solomon’s prayer as he ruled the nation of Israel – that he would have “an understanding mind to govern the people” (1 Kings 3:9). Pray that our leaders would have wisdom to know right and the strength to do it.
- Pray that they would have discernment. This is the ability to know right from wrong; to know God’s leading as opposed to the leading of the enemy (1 Kings 3:9). Pray that God would protect them from lies and deception.
- Pray that they would be instruments of God. This was Paul’s instruction in Romans 13:4; that rulers, authorities, and governing bodies were actually “servants of God”. Pray that our leaders would lead a society marked by tranquility, godliness, and dignity (1 Timothy 2:2).
- Pray for the election of such people. If it is God’s will that our society be marked by peace, dignity, and righteousness, we must pray for people who support this to be elected. Pray for God to raise these people up, and for our nation to embrace those who will promote honor, righteousness, and justice.
- Pray with a heart of thanksgiving. This is the peace that comes down from above. When we honor God, trust Him with our daily lives and needs, and commit that to prayer, the “peace of God that passes all understanding will guard our hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:7).
- Pray for God’s will to be done. Jesus, in His instructional prayer to the disciples, said, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). God’s governing and ruling will flows from heaven to earth. He is in complete control.
This article originally appeared here.