"Therefore I exhort first of all that you make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, for kings and for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1-4, MEV).
The United States of America is at a critical time in its history. It seems like we are repeating a precarious cycle from 50 years ago.
In the 1960s, we experienced the generation gap, economic division, racial strife, hate crimes, free sex movement, assassinations of leaders, drug epidemics and much more. Prayer was removed from public schools, abortion was made legally available, an assault was released against traditional family values and roles, a no-fault divorce clause was introduced and on and on it goes. This began to unravel American society as we had known it.
While the current tumultuous cultural climate is very similar to the 1960s, it is perhaps even more precariously heightened. Today we have Supreme-Court-sanctioned gay marriage, open doors to an escalating gender confusion, Presidential Executive Orders that go outside of Constitutional rights, the legalization of drugs in specific states, violent radical Islamic jihadist attacks, trillions of dollars of national debt, and more.
Much of the current mood in the U. S. is one of anger, frustration and extreme polarization. The final four candidates from the two major political parties running for President of the United States revealed this extreme polarity: a liberal socialist, a crooked insider, a boastful outsider and a rigid constitutionalist. (Yes, I do honor and pray for those in authority, but I am painting a vivid picture on purpose. Just hold onto your hat!)
Many dedicated Christians and conservative patriots are so disillusioned that they are not sure who to vote for, and some are even considering just checking out. I get it. I honestly do! In my family, we have been joking about adding my oldest son as a write-in vote on the ballot for the next President of the United States. He would be a good one!
The Scriptures state, "I urge you to pray!"
Praying for people in positions of authority is a high priority in the heart of God. In 1 Timothy 2:1–4, we are given an apostolic admonition for these prayers.
When South African pastor and prolific author Andrew Murray read this passage, he wrote in response:
"What a faith in the power of prayer! A few feeble and despised Christians are to influence the mighty Roman emperors, and help in securing peace and quietness. Let us believe that prayer is a power that is taken up by God in His rule of the world. Let us pray for our country and its rulers, for all the rulers of the world, for rulers in cities or districts in which we are interested. When God's people unite in this, they may count upon their prayers effecting in the unseen world more than they know. Let faith hold this fast."
Murray laid hold of the fact that earthly authority cannot be exercised within the will of God without the steady application of prayer on the part of the people of God.
Jack W. Hayford, respected founding pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, comments:
"You and I can help decide [whether]...blessing or cursing...happens on earth. We will determine whether God's goodness is released toward specific situations or whether the power of sin and Satan is permitted to prevail. Prayer is the determining factor."
Yes, the prayers that Christians pray for those in authority matter; they are essential to the advancement of the kingdom. We cannot afford to leave them up to others. Prayer for leaders must become one of the core values of our lives as intercessors.
Additional Biblical Precedent
Many other Scriptures help us understand how to pray for people who are in positions of authority. Let's look at a few of them:
"Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:17, MEV).
"My son, fear the Lord and the king; and do not meddle with those who are given to change; for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin of them both?" (Prov. 24:21-22, MEV).
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn" (Prov. 29:2, MEV).
Why should we pray for those who are in authority? In my formative years, I often heard international Bible teacher, Derek Prince, instruct his audience with great precision. The following are some of the concepts I remember him teaching. "If you bypass prayer, you can have all sorts of plans, systems and programs, but you do not have the power to operate them. It is like having a building wired for electricity, but not connected to the generator. Nothing is going to work. The wires may be in good order and the light fixtures may be wonderful, but you are not going to get results because there is no power! The powerhouse of the Christian Church is prayer, and Paul very logically says, 'First of all prayer!'"
Prayer is therefore the priority. Consider these three summations:
1. Who do you pray for?
For men, kings and all those in authority.
2. What is the topic?
Pray for good government to be established in our nations.
3. What is the purpose?
So that we may live in a peaceful and orderly society, so that there will be an unhindered propagation of the Gospel. God desires all men to be saved. So simple and logical, and yet so overlooked!
Very early in colonial America, in 1638, a pastor named Thomas Hooker preached a sermon in Hartford, Connecticut based on this passage. His sermon inspired the creation of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first written constitution in Western history, which created a government from which the government of the United States can trace its lineal descent.
In his sermon, Hooker "forcefully asserted that the choice of public magistrates belongs to the people, that the privilege of election belongs to the people, and that those who have the power to appoint officers of government have the right to limit the power they hold." Hooker's sermon concluded with the words, "As God hath spared our lives, and given us them in liberty, so to seek the guidance of God, and to choose in God and for God."
In general, biblical principles had a strong influence on those who established the United States of America. Later, Daniel Webster (1782–1852) wrote: "If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering ... but if we neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all of our glory in profound obscurity." In other words, when you pray for people in authority who are selected by others, you may decide to pray first for those who are doing the voting or selecting. Pray that they—including yourself—will abide by biblical principles, will have discernment and wisdom and integrity, and will be blessed by God in the execution of the tasks that lead up to the selection of new leaders.
Let's Add Feet to Our Prayers!
Also, our participation in the voting process is an adjunct to our prayers in a very real way. Voting can be our "works" that are supposed to match our faith. The Book of James tells us that faith without works is dead. "So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:17, MEV). Praying is vital, but it can't stand alone. You must add feet to your prayers. Don't be a side-liner! Take a stand. Add works to your prayers of faith.
While we all have special prayer assignments, we are also called to be "general practitioners" of intercession, and part of our prayer emphasis needs to be directed toward those in authority. It is God's heart. It is God's Word. It is God's command.
So why don't we just stop for a minute and tune in to God's heart, praying for leaders and issues that concern them?
"Father, in accordance with Your Word we pause and pray for kings and for those in authority. We pray that You will raise up godly counsel around our leader's lives and that the input that is based on an unbiblical framework will be silenced. We ask You to provide wisdom like that of Solomon, as well as purity, protection and safety. We release the knowledge of God's will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
"Lord, as the United States and other nations go into critical times of elections, we call forth those who are truly appointed by You. Raise up righteous men and women who are humble, wise and have revelatory activity upon their lives. Release them into positions of influence to impact those in authority. We pray that there would be a true reliance upon the Word of God, the will of God and the ways of God as the source of daily strength, wisdom and courage. We pray that there would be a restoration of dignity and honor, trustworthiness and righteousness in the land.
"We bless those in authority this day and we declare that this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires all men and women to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We thank You in Jesus's great name. Amen."
Dr. James Goll is the founder of Encounters Network, Prayer Storm and helps carry on the work of Compassion Acts. For information on his online school visit:geteschool.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
For the original article, visit encountersnetwork.com.
Dr. James W. Goll is the founder of God Encounters Ministries, an award-winning author and communications trainer and has ministered in over 50 nations. For information on his webinars and online classes, visit godencounters.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
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