Praying for those in Authority
Let’s look at what the Bible means when it tells us to pray for those in authority. 1 Timothy 2 says;
"I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth."
It is interesting that Paul would write these words when wicked, evil, Roman leaders were in power, especially when Nero would be the one to execute the apostle. Let’s understand then what the Lord really wants us to do:
1. PRAY. That should not be a mystery to anyone. What does confuse people sometimes is that God was not concerned with evil governments who might rule over God’s people because God understood if His people would pray, they could direct the course of decisions that would be made. We must grasp this because a lack of consistent prayer for leaders contribute to the confusion in a nation, as being the "middle person" in prayer, can eventually lead to peaceful and quiet lives for those who live godly. A nation in turmoil may be an indictment of a prayerless church more than the actions of lawless people.
2. PRAY FOR SALVATION. Notice the ultimate goal of prayer is for the salvation of these leaders. No one wants someone to lose their soul for eternity as it is God’s will for every governmental leader to come to Christ. We don’t pray for blessing; we pray for an encounter with Jesus.
3. PRAY FOR COURAGE AND CONVICTION. The fact that God wants all men to be saved means that at times we must call out their sin and evil decision making for what it is. There is a misconception that Christians should lay down and be silent when God’s laws are violated- just be a nice Christian, right? That’s not the example the bible gives to us. John the Baptist called out Herod’s sin, and the apostles refused to stop meeting together and preaching Jesus. Paul also reasoned with Felix about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come and Felix trembled. As a Roman citizen, he also used the court system to his advantage. It's not judging to do this as we are only repeating what God has already said and enforcing His will on earth.
4. PRAY FOR WISDOM. Following the example of first-century believers’ actions, respect and courtesy were always practiced because no one gets a voice or opportunity to speak with high-level influencers by calling them stupid, morons, idiots, or verbalizing frustrations on social media with no accountability. Paul was respectful but direct at the same time (ever heard of “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove?”) before the Roman courts even though the leaders were opposed to Christianity and lived lives in opposition to the gospel.
Here’s the conclusion: God has called us to get between heaven and earth and declare His will. We are the only ones who have been given the opportunity and responsibility to do this. Psalm 149 reminds us of our privilege to direct the course of human actions through worship, the word, and prayer:
"Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands—to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, TO BIND THEIR KINGS WITH SHACKLES AND THEIR LEADERS WITH IRON CHAINS, to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious PRIVILEGE of his faithful ones."