“Pay to all what is owed to them:…honor to whom honor is owed.”
— Romans 13:7
“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
— 1 Peter 2:17
Governmental leaders are to be honored because of the position that they occupy. Christians owe them this even when they act dishonorably—not that we ignore or in any sense condone evil that they may do. Rather, we realize that they occupy their positions by God’s will and are called by Him to carry out their duties with justice and for the welfare of those whom they serve.
Admittedly, it is far easier to carry out the admonition to “honor the emperor” when the emperor acts honorably and fulfills the responsibilities of his office for the good of the citizens whom he leads. In a day when political leaders are almost expected to be self-serving if not corrupt, it is a great kindness of God to find one who regularly makes wise decisions and seems to discharge his duties in the fear of God.
I am grateful for the privilege of living in the state of Florida during the administration of Governor Ron DeSantis. Our governor has displayed great wisdom and courage during some of the most challenging days in the recent history of our nation. Time after time, during his first term, he has been put in the position of either going along with political pressures or doing what has been in the best interests of the citizens of Florida. I am grateful that he has repeatedly resisted the pressure and charted a course based on what is good and right.
He did this in the face of the Black Lives Matter riots of 2020, the now-debunked Covid protocols and vaccine mandates handed down from federal offices and agencies, and the widespread promotion of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Even when it was unpopular and when his political opponents tried to intimidate him into changing course, he stood firm in defending our state’s law enforcement officers as they maintained law and order in the face of violent threats, protecting public school classrooms from acidic ideologies, and in providing common-sense medical treatments for the Covid pandemic.
I, along with countless other Floridians, have personally been helped by his leadership of our state. Due to his resolve to serve the people of Florida when the federal government worked to cut off access to monoclonal antibodies in our state, I was able to get treatment that helped me recover from severe sickness. When the federal government said that it would take several months for local bridges to barrier islands in my county to be rebuilt after Hurricane Iain, Governor DeSantis led the way to have them restored in days.
While the church of Jesus Christ should never look to the government or any governmental leader to meet our needs (Psalm 146:3), we most certainly should honor them and, where we can, encourage them in fulfilling their roles as “God’s servant for [our] good” (Romans 13:4). And, we most certainly should pray for them, as we are instructed to do: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, hat we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
We do that each Lord’s Day in our worship gatherings at Grace Baptist Church. And it has been my privilege to pray publicly for the governor for the state of Florida. Earlier this month I had the honor to pray the invocation at Governor DeSantis’ second inauguration.
Following is a transcript of the prayer that I prayed that day. It remains my heartfelt prayer for Governor DeSantis today. Perhaps it may help inform your own prayers for the political leaders that God has placed in your life.
Our Father in heaven, we bow to you today on this momentous occasion because You alone are God. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all things visible and invisible. You are Sovereign and through your Son, Jesus Christ, You rule and overrule in all the affairs of life.
We thank You for your great love for people whom You have made in Your own image. And we confess that we have not lived as we ought and have sinned against You. But we also confess that with You there is mercy, that you may be feared. Thank you for delivering up Your Son to be the Savior of the world.
We also thank you for the provisions that You have made for us to pursue liberty, joy, and justice in Your world, and for instituting government and all governing authorities for our well-being. In Your wisdom, goodness, and power, you have once again established Governor DeSantis to serve the people of Florida by carrying out his responsibilities in ways that will be good for us. We thank You for all the wonderful things that have been accomplished in his first term, including his leadership and resolve to keep Florida free through the recent pandemic and societal upheaval that plagued so much of our nation; and his compassionate, energetic and effective recovery work in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
Today, as he takes his oath of office to fulfill his duties by Your help, we know that he will need grace from You to meet the challenges that will be thrust upon him as the civil leader of Florida. Grant Governor DeSantis wisdom beyond his years, strength beyond his abilities, and courage to help him to stand firm in every righteous conviction. Enable him to serve with joy, zeal, and in the fear of God.
Father, grant our governor good counsel and the humility to heed it when it will help him to serve the citizens of this state well. Enable him to utilize his office to lead this state in ways that will benefit all Floridians.
Lord, we also ask You to have mercy on our governor’s precious family. We pray for his wife Casey and children Madison, Mason, and Mamie. With all the demands that go with his office grant him the strength and discipline to love and care for them. Watch over and bless this family as he gives himself to serve this state.
So, holy Father, hear our prayers for Governor DeSantis. Receive our praise and answer our requests, because we bring them to you in the Name of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.