God doesn’t give us an option in praying for our leaders. He doesn’t say only pray for the leaders you agree with and like. He says pray for all leaders. The Bible commands us to pray for leaders, because all authority has been established by God to accomplish His purpose which is to establish His kingdom which will endure forever..
Romans 13:1-5 (NLT)1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.
3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
The Bible contains many commands to pray for our leaders—national and local, secular and religious. The Bible makes special mention of praying for those in positions of authority. Those people include government officials (international, national, and local), and church leaders.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)1 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.2 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.3 This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
Titus 3:1-2 (NLT)1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.2 They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.
Hebrews 13:7 (NLT)7 Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.
Praying For Our Leaders Makes Practical Sense
Yes we are commanded to pray for our leaders, but it also makes practical sense to pray for them. They can affect the conditions we live under, and have an impact on our families, our churches, our workplaces, our cities, and our countries. When our leaders obey the will of God, it is easier to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed.
Proverbs 29:2 (NLT)2 When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
You may be the only person praying for them. We need to show the love of God to them too because if we don’t nobody will. Through prayer for we plead to God on their behalf because they can’t do it themselves. Let’s face it as much as we don’t want to accept it Jesus died for them too.
Leadership Can Be A Grueling Task
James 3:1 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Leaders carry a degree of responsibility to all those under their authority whether they agree with them or not. Leaders the targets of criticism especially by those of us who disagree with them. The “buck stops with them”, and that’s an awesome responsibility. We should pray for them simply because we recognize the greatness of their task and although we disagree with them at least they were willing to lead. We should pray for our leaders and ask Him to have His way in their hearts, to support those around them, and to use their leadership to benefit those they lead whether they agree or disagree with them..
That’s All Well And Good For Good Leaders But What About Bad, Corrupt, Ungodly, Leaders
Most of my friends know how I personally feel about the current leadership of this country not only in the White House but the US House of Representatives and Senate.. I disagree with nearly all of their plans, policies, and proposals (This is not a political statement. I wasn’t crazy about the President’s opponent in the last election election either. Read on and you will get my point). However they are our current governmental leaders in the United States, and the Bible commands that I pray for them, even though I don’t agree with them. How do I do that?
To be perfectly honest I have struggled with praying for him, and I know that most of my friends have the same problem. That’s why I started writing this blog post so that I could maybe get some answers. I found an article from Charisma News which was published in November 2014. The writer, Rob Schwarzwalder, was obviously struggling with the same question in trying to pray for the then President, a man on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the man I’m struggling to pray for, so my guess is that he and I would disagree on a great deal when it comes to public policy. The article didn’t cause me to change my opinion of our current leadership or their plans, policies, or proposals, and this post will probably not change yours either, but that’s not the object of the post. The point is that we are still commanded to pray for them, and here are some good ways to do that.
Rob’s article does give five very good ways to pray for government leaders you don’t agree with, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, Republican, Democrat, Independent, liberal, moderate, conservative, or anywhere in between.
Ezra 6:9-10 (NLT)9 “Give the priests in Jerusalem whatever is needed in the way of young bulls, rams, and male lambs for the burnt offerings presented to the God of heaven. And without fail, provide them with as much wheat, salt, wine, and olive oil as they need each day.10 Then they will be able to offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the welfare of the king and his sons. (Bold mine)
1 Peter 2:13-14 (NLT)13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state,14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. (Bold mine)
2 Chronicles 33:1-3, 11-13 (NLT)1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years.2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them11 So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.13 And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request. So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the LORD alone is God!
When evil leaders are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed. Manasseh’s reign over Judah which resulted in his capture and exile to Babylon was reversed when he repented. This shows that when evil leaders sincerely repent they can be used by God to restore what they have ruined.
Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT) And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
If we don’t agree with the policies of our leaders we shouldn’t ask God to replace them because He allowed them to be there anyway. Eventually every leader must step down, so it’s important that while they are in authority, we be willing to submit to God’s will for their lives—and ours— by asking God to guide them and praying for their salvation, their protection and their ability to guide us and make wise decisions.
Yes, we are commanded to pray for our leaders no matter how much we disagree with them, their policies,or their proposals. We are commanded to pray for them no matter how much we dislike their moral character. Let God take care of that we can’t. We pray because we want to be able to continue to worship in peace and to pray for restoration of the nation despite the leadership.
Here’s God’s Guarantee
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.