We live in days of political strife and turmoil—days in which conversations about politics tend to spiral from disagreement to hate speech because opinions about government are so diverse and are held so strongly. In a political environment that pits family, friends, neighbors, and even church members against each other, Christians are in danger of getting caught up in the divisiveness which so characterizes American politics.
By falling into the trap of thinking that we can transform our culture through political means, Christians (both on the left and the right) have become just another special interest group. I am not denying that we have an obligation to be responsible citizens by reflecting the glory and truth of Christ in our society (which includes voting and participating in government and politics); I am simply saying that we must stop acting as if the plans of the sovereign Lord are dependent on the outcome of elections. Our sovereign Lord has appointed all authorities, and consequently, we must submit ourselves to them (Romans 13:1). So then, how are we to respond to governing authorities? I cannot here give an exhaustive list of suggestions. However, I do want to point out one area in which Christians have been given a particular privilege and responsibility toward authorities: prayer. Here are three reasons to pray for governing authorities.
1. Because we are to pray for all peoples, including our governing authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
It may be helpful to remember that Paul is wrote to Timothy during a time when he was under a tyrannical government. Nevertheless, he urged the Ephesians to pray for all peoples, including those in authority. If we would only do the same. Sure, we pray for those officials we like and elected, but do we pray for those with whom we disagree and did not elect? Do we pray for their wisdom, effectiveness and well-being? This is a real test of our Christian faith. And this is one reason we should practice such prayers when we gather together on the Lord’s Day.
2. So that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2:2).
Our officials are tasked with encouraging good and punishing evil (Romans 13:3-4). They have a difficult, thankless job, and we are to pray that they would fulfill their roles well so that we might live in a just and peaceful society, free from crime and civil conflict.
3. Finally, because praying for governing authorities pleases God who desires all peoples to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
As we pray for our public officials, and as they fulfill their roles by providing order and peace, we are able to advance the gospel without interruption. That is, after all, our mission – to make disciples of all nations. May we be a holy people, providing a witness of the truth to all peoples.
Let me suggest, then, that we not complain about election results but instead begin praying for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is being done in heaven. Make a list of all your governing officials (federal, state, local), and begin praying for them today! And lead your church to pray for your governing officials when you gather as a church.