Five Reasons You Should Pray for the Government
October 4, 2012
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We should pray for everyone. Given that our leaders share our common humanity, and given that Jesus urges us to even pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5.44), praying for our leaders reminds us that they need it. Leadership is a tough job. And our leaders are people like us doing a difficult job. They require prayer. Plus Paul tells us to pray for ‘everyone’ (1 Timothy 2.1), and that even includes whichever politician it is that most infuriates you. 2. We should pray specifically for ‘those in authority’ (1 Timothy 2.2). Sometimes we may be tempted to pray less, or not at all, for those whose authority we deem to be illegitimate, or who in some way abuse their authority. But Paul urges us to pray for ‘kings’, and the kind of leaders he had in mind were mainly distinctly less benign than our royalty, and were certainly not a modern republic or parliamentary democracy. So the first two reasons for praying for our government are quite simply that we are told to do so. We are asked in God’s Word to pray for everyone, and to pray specifically for those in authority. But the Bible rarely tells us to do something without giving us explanation as to why we are to do it. Here come the next three reasons, each of which explain why we are to pray for our government beyond merely ‘because we are told to do so’. 3. We pray with the purpose that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. This is very different from a pseudo-messianic view of political leadership. We do not pray that they will solve all our problems, or reverse the noetic effects of the Fall, or solve every calamity that may happen on their watch. We pray so that we may have peaceful and quiet lives (1 Timothy 2.2). In other words, we are asking so that we can mind our own business and get about our lives without being interfered with and messed about by idiotic or evil rule. The sort of government we want is government that lets us have peaceful and quiet lives. And we pray so that we would have that sort of government. No caped crusader politicians; politicians that let us live peaceful and quiet lives. 4. We pray so that a context and culture may be encouraged by our political leaders which will help foster godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2.2). There is no doubt that leadership has an influence, and perhaps beyond the bald power of making laws its greatest influence is the soft power of example. So we pray that our leaders will help set a tone, and provide a context, whereby godliness and holiness, moral decency, and good behaviour, are encouraged — and certainly not discouraged. There is much to pray for here in the modern West. A non-Christian leader can have this effect, as can a Christian, and we can ask that, whether our leaders are converted or not, they would act in a way that would help create a culture that allows for the fostering of godliness and holiness. 5. We pray because this pleases God ‘our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2.2-3). Most of all, the reason why we pray for our leaders is so that they would allow for the preaching of the gospel. This is a big prayer, a much-needed prayer as relativistic tolerance begins to unravel and show itself to be — as it logically is — deeply intolerant, and gives a great reason for us corporately and individually to pray for our leaders. We ask that they would provide, or protect, or continue to further, opportunities for the preaching of the gospel. We want schools to be open to the gospel, universities, public spaces, and churches and Christian institutions to be able to go about their work unhindered. Paul does not ask us to pray that the government would itself convert people; it is unable to do that. Government instead has the relatively limited task of allowing for the gospel to do its job, which, by the power of ‘God our Saviour’, is the conversion of all those who believe. What’s stopping you or your church from praying for your government? Leaders need our prayers, and we need to pray for them. Perhaps the next letter we write to our politician should let them know a) that we are praying for them, and b) what we are praying for. ************** The above article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for October 2012.]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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