Prayers for Governing Authorities
In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 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. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
Christians are called to pray for kings and all who are in authority. Are you so praying? If not, you should. If you are praying, what are you praying for? Is it about the economy, foreign policy, class warfare, defense, the culture, etc.? Or is it more important things?
Paul instructed Timothy what to teach the Ephesian church about prayers for kings and all who are in authority.
First, Paul instructs that Christians should pray for the soul of the king.
Elsewhere, Paul taught the Romans, under a pagan king called Caesar, that all authority comes from God. Even pagan kings are put in place by God for His purposes. Romans 13:1 says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Even as pagan a king as Caesar should be prayed for.
Further, every king has an eternal soul. God desires all sorts of men to be saved (v. 4), including kings. We should pray for that continually. Do you?
Second, Paul instructs Christians to pray for how the king governs.
Christians are to pray that their king will rule justly in such a way that Christians may “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (v. 2). Is that uppermost on your mind as you pray for your leader? That they will govern in such a way that Christians may freely live a godly life in peace? Or are you more concerned about your prosperity, your wages, “a chicken in every pot?”
Different political parties try to attract the vote and support of Christians by appealing to economic and social issues, even religious issues. Very quickly Christians may lose sight of the greatest issue of their life: to live a godly life, to bear witness of Christ’s salvation to others, to raise their children in the nurture and discipline of the Lord, to obey God’s commandments, to be faithful to Christ’s church. With troubles in the country and constant debate over many issues, Paul calls us to pray for our leaders to govern with a higher goal: that Christians may lead a peaceful life in all godliness and dignity. Is this your greater concern?
Yes, economic policy is an issue for Christians to work; yes, social issues must be based upon God’s Ten Commandments; yes, our nation’s defense is necessary for peace. But I wonder; how many Christians are praying for their leaders to provide a country where they can live a more godly life in peace?
Third, Paul commends such prayers for kings as “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (v. 3).
It is not wrong to pray that our government will adopt and govern by laws which are just according to the Ten Commandments. John Calvin so taught. Our forefathers so hoped. It would be wonderful to live in a nation where God’s design for the family was upheld; where people did not murder, commit adultery, steal, and lie; where the government faithfully punished law-breakers and praised law-keepers (Romans 13:1-7). It is not wrong to pray for such things.
However, when Paul commends the prayers for kings to Christians, he understands that the goal of all such prayers should be the extension of the spiritual kingdom of God in the hearts of kings and all men. Only then will righteous behavior bless a country. This kind of prayer is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”
Fourth, Paul commends Christians to remember that Jesus Christ is presently King of kings.
We should be more concerned with the success of the Kingdom of Christ than the success of any earthly king or kingdom. “My kingdom is not of this world,” He said. No earthly king or kingdom can bring in salvation and holy living according to God’s standards. Paul later added:
1 Timothy 6:12-19 says:
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time–He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”
Yes, our prayers should be for the king’s soul and a tranquil life of religious freedom. But what good is it if you do not use those blessings actually to live a godly life for the glory of God? Would God give us a king for such freedom if we are not using the freedoms and peace we now have to live a godly life? We should pray.