Unless something incredible happens between now and the elections in November, I know one thing for certain: I will not like the result. I know many of my fellow evangelicals are disturbed by the choices before us. Some say that they cannot in good conscience vote for either major party candidate. Others say that they cannot in good conscience allow their non-vote to allow a greater of two evils to win. Regardless, there is one other thing I know.
No matter who wins, I have a God-given obligation to pray for him or her. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 instructs us to pray for “kings and all those in authority.” The government has a God-given role of maintaining order and the rule of law in society. (Romans 13:1-7) Because humanity is sinful, we need government to protect us from ourselves. A good government provides the environment in which we as Christians may live “a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” According to 1 Timothy 2:3-4, such a society enables a greater spread of the gospel.
It is important to recognize that these verses do not make any qualifications on our prayers:
- The leaders for whom we pray do not have to be Christians. Most likely the officials for whom Paul wanted the church to intercede were pagans. We don’t have to agree with our governing officials’ religious beliefs to pray for them.
- Also, we don’t have to agree with the political views of the government officials for whom we pray. Paul said to pray for kings and ALL THOSE in authority. It would not take a long conversation about politics with me to know that there is much about the current administration in Washington that I do not like. However, my disagreements are not a cause for me not to pray for my President. If he does his job well, my life and the life of many in this country will be better. So, I must pray for him.
Paul did not give us guidance as to what we should pray. However, I don’t think the spirit of this verse is that we should ask that “his days be few and that another take his office.” Rather we should pray that government officials successfully lead in such a way that we may have the type of life described in 1 Timothy 2:2. Here is one rule of thumb that I wish that I practiced more. I should pray for my political leaders as least as much as I complain about them. I must confess: that rule means that I need to spend a lot more time in prayer.
Finally, it is important to remember that we should pray for ALL in authority. That includes not just Washington, D.C., but also our state capitals, courts, county commissions, school boards, city councils, and even local law enforcement. I believe that American evangelicals have been too preoccupied with Washington over the past four decades. As important as the Federal government is, there is much good we can accomplish on the local level. We should not forget to pray for these officials as well.