Two-thousand years ago, the apostle Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to lead a group of churches. Paul followed up later with a letter that included this statement:
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
I’ve read this passage multiple times, but I personally need to hear it again loud and clear. Why? Because my flesh, my reasoning, really doesn’t want to pray for peace for those elected officials who do not exhibit a biblical worldview in their policies, resulting in the loss of millions of children’s lives in the next few months.
When a president-elect tells us in advance that on the first week he is in office, he plans to place his signature on a document to release taxpayer funds for international abortions, I just get nauseated at the thought of millions of children losing their lives via “reproductive services.”
Yet, I am without excuse if I choose not pray for this man. On January 22, the day in 1973 of the infamous, deadly decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize abortion, I will especially pray by name for POTUS and the SCOTUS members. And I encourage you to do the same.
The Holy Spirit used the apostle Paul to pen this message to those of us living in 2021. Paul was in jail for his faith. In fact, he had been imprisoned multiple times before by different government leaders. He also had been beaten, stoned, and belittled for his faith by those in authority. In the midst of it, he did not lead an insurrection. He was faithful to the One who loved him the most—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet when he writes to Timothy, Paul reminds him to pray for all, not some who are in authority. This was not a theory for Paul; it was a personal life practice and a clear command for the church. We miss out on God’s best for our lives, and the best for the lives of our elected leaders, when we fail to pray, even intercede for government leaders who lack the judgment to embrace biblical values.
In light of January 6 events in our nation, we need less pontification about who is right and wrong, and more time on our knees in humility and repentance—more pleading for God’s mercy than ever before. Here is an excerpt of what I expressed in the throne room of heaven at a prayer meeting with Gov. Parsons and many of our state legislators:
“Almighty God, I know Your plans stand forever and Your purposes through all generations. You have a purpose that You are accomplishing in us and in our culture that is bigger than what my feeble mind can comprehend or adequately express. Thank You O Lord for your greatness and power.
“Father, You told us to pray for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we can lead quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. We know You want everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, so I pray right now for the leaders in our state and national governments. I pray they would have ears to hear Your truth and hearts to receive Your love.
“I pray the leaders You have placed in authority would have Your wisdom and commitment to ‘punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right’ (1 Pet. 2:14, NIV). I choose to pray for those in authority who ideologically persecute me for my faith and biblical convictions. Help me see them as You see them—people You love and gave Your begotten Son for.
“Lord, raise up righteous and diligent lawmakers and leaders, because our people need justice and examples of faith in our public square. Help our leaders speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves—for the rights of the little children in the womb, in the foster care system, or the nursing homes.
“Help them to speak up for all who are destitute—and to judge fairly and defend the rights of the poor and needy. Help them treat everyone created in Your image equally with the same measurement regardless of ethnicity, economic status, position, age, ideology, or background.
“Lord, our culture does not honor You or walk in Your truth. Have mercy on us. We desperately, humbly repent of all that breaks Your heart and petition You for a movement of Your Holy Spirit that sweeps across the landscape of our culture, churches and families.
“You said if we would humble ourselves and turn to You that You would bring healing. Forgive me—forgive our people, Lord. Redeem us by Your great strength and Your mighty hand.
“Lord, I, along with all these others, confess that You are truly the King and Lord of all, slow to anger and abounding in love. You are greater than any principality, jurisdiction, or national entity. You are faithful, even when we are faithless. I put our leaders in Your hands. Guide them as only You can.”
I would ask us, as Missouri Baptists, to listen more to the Lord and to one another. Listen more—talk, post, or tweet less. Turn the volume down on the media and talk with one another. Pray for one another. Plead for those without the Lord and in need of His redemptive grace. Cry out to the Lord as a people desperate for Him.