Last year, because of all the angst about the current President of the United States (POTUS), I wrote the post “LIke It Or Not The Bible Says We Must Pray For Our Leaders” . In that post I quoted scripture that says we should pray for and submit to our leaders because authority was established by God to maintain peace and order so that we, especially Christians, can live and worship in peace. Please notice that I did not say that we were to pray for an individual but for the authority (official capacity or office). Our prayers should ask God to surround them with wise counsel and to actually change them and any evil in them.
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 (NLT)1 Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.
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.
That post gives five very good ways to pray for those in power that you don’t agree with, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, Republican, Democrat, Independent, liberal, moderate, conservative, or anywhere in between.
- We should pray for their health and safety. As recorded in
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)
- We should pray that they would execute justice. Honoring and protecting those who live decently and productively and punishing those who do wrong are the fundamental duties of the state We should ask the Lord that those in authority would fulfill them well.
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)
- We should pray that they would follow the Lord's ways and repent if they don't.
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.
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!
- Pray that they would govern, with wisdom, for the of those they lead, not for personal gain or for the advantage of a favored few. Their concern must be for everyone's well-being.
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.”
- Pray that God would accomplish His purposes through them regardless of their willingness to be used by Him. We can petition the Most High to work through even those who are resisting Him to fulfill His purposes.
Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
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.
Read the following devotion from the YouVersion Reading Plan Living In The Light: Money, Sex, And Power by John Piper
Mark 9:31-37 (NIV) because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
When great power is wielded in the pursuit of great good, we stand amazed and rejoice. God has appointed human government, for example, to wield power for good. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2 v 13-14). When power is wielded to do justice, we rejoice.
But there is another side to power: “When the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29 v 2).
Power may pursue great good, but it may also pursue great evil.
And therein lies one of the dangers of power. Morally, it is no better than the goal it pursues. It is a “good” only in the way that a saw is good—and one can use a saw to cut firewood but also to deface an heirloom.
Not only is power dangerous because it can be used to bring about evil, but also because it can be used to exalt the one who has it. Since all humans admire glory, and power can be part of glory, we are all tempted to seek this admiration by getting this power. We love to be admired and praised, and so we bend what power we have toward getting applause. In other words, our power is employed to exalt ourselves. This is a great danger.
Why do all humans have this craving? Because we have all exchanged the glory of God for images—especially the one in the mirror.
Romans 1:23 (NIV) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
The reason we abuse power is because we do not delight in the glory of God’s right to all power. When we are blind to the glory of God’s passion to be known and loved as the source and sum of all power, we take it for our own, and use it for ourselves. That is not why God created the universe—or us.