PRAYING FOR OUR LEADERS
We are commanded to pray for our leaders. That does not mean we pray our politics. It was comical when Frank Rizzo ran against Thatcher Longstreth close to forty years ago. People were praying in opposite directions, both convinced they were right. The same is true today. There are people who believe that President Barack Obama is a fulfillment of prophecy to bring peace to the world and they pray against all his critics and refuse to even consider that there could be any flaws in his ideology or policy. There are others who oppose practically everything he has done and stop just short of praying something bad would happen to him. We need to pray God's way, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.
Those of you who read me know that I believe there is only one set of truth. That is why denominations are intrinsically flawed. They teach opposite points of view that are simply not compatible. How can you be unified with someone who believes he opposite? You can't. The same is true of politics. Policies are either right or wrong. Protecting the pre-born and believing in abortion are inherently incompatible. Believing in God's design for marriage and promoting homosexuality are inherently incompatible. So are issues such as loyalty, proper and improper political alliances, economic systems, and freedom. You may wish to reference www.THEMANHATTANDECLARATION.ORG for three basic issues many Christians have agreed on. There are other issues that involve methodology where the Bible is not definitive. On those people can differ. However, most issues have Biblical roots, and it behooves all Christians to study to show themselves approved unto God.
I want to accomplish two things with this post - first, to summarize what prayers for political leaders are found in the Bible, and second, qualifications that apply to political leaders.
Most familiar is the prayer that we are commanded to do in the public assembly. From I Timothy 2, "1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time." This prayer is essentially for our leaders to leave us alone so we can serve our God, but salvation is included as well. God wants EVERYONE saved. He is no willing that ANY should perish. I believe we should earnestly pray for the salvation of our leaders, and I do that. We must require the same degree of proof of faith we would require of anyone. All too many politicians in our country cynically drop "Christianeze" phrases to get votes and though they do nothing in accordance with the will of God, they get a pass. Don't be fooled. Most Americans aren't in relationship to Christ, and the same applies to leaders.
We must also pray for leaders regardless of party. Some who are Dems are enthusiastic about praying for their man but refused to pray for his predecessor and in fact slandered him at every opportunity. Those in the GOP have done much the same thing. This commandment supersedes political positions. Obviously, where positions are clearly at odds with God, prayer should go along those lines as well. We are never asked to park our convictions at the door - we must simply be sure be pray in accordance with the will of God.
There are many more prayers for leaders in the Bible, some of which may surprise you. Read Exodus 8 and 9 and see how many times the Pharoah asked Moses to pray specific things for him and how Moses responded. Check out Judges 16 and see how God answered Samson's prayer which resulted in the death of ALL the Philistine leaders.
Read I Kings 13 to see how King Jeroboam asked for prayer , "?Then the king said to the man of God, 'Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.' So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king's hand was restored and became as it was before." We are to include in our prayers what the king requests we pray for, as long as it is in the will of God.
In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah prayed against the Assyrian King and his underlings who blasphemed God, and Isaiah prophesied against wicked ruler. It is thoroughly Biblical to pray against oppression and those who mock and afflict the people of God. Many prayed against Hitler, and God heard their cry.
We learn from I Chronicles 5:19-21 that we can pray for victory in war. God hears the cries of those with a righteous cause. If the cause is just, God is indeed on our side.
In 2 Chronicles chapters 6 and 7, we learn that if we have repented of our sin and evil, we can expect God to reverse the misfortune in our land. Keep in mind, though, that this promise was given to a theocracy, not a secular country. Nonetheless, as the Lord extended he life of Nineveh because the king repented at the teaching of Jonah, even pagan leaders who repent and heed the word of the Lord can bring blessing to their countries.
2 Chronicles 33:18 says, "The other events of Manasseh's reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel." There are people with prophetic ministry to political leaders. May God help them to prophesy the truth, and not simply "prophelie" what they know the leader wants to hear. We need men of God who will step up to the plate and tell the truth without counting the personal cost it will surely exact from them.
We have the right to pray for favor from the king, as Nehemiah did. God can bring great results even from a person not inclined to do anything for God's people. We also see that with Esther and Xerxes. God sometimes puts one who represents the interests of the people of God into a position of influence, Esther asked the people to fast for her, and it behooves those who are in the court of the king to rely upon God for favor and power, and not trust in their own cleverness.
And should the worst happen, and our country ever get taken over by another, heed the word of God to the Jews in exile in Jeremiah 29:7, "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
Many know that there have been and are yet to come times when Christians are on the run. Obedience to authorities is no longer an option, as we simply try to escape the evil. Luke 21:35-37 says, "35For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." Jesus himself prays for our protection from the evil one in John 17:14-16, "14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."
In Acts 12, the church prayed for Peter, who was in jail and slated for certain death. God does not ask us to simply acquiesce to evil - we must pray for mercy and for his deliverance to those ensnared by evil people. In situations where he wants us to testify as Stephen, Paul, and others have done to the point of death, he will so lead us, but that should not be our first assumption. In Ephesians 6, we are told we are not wrestling with flesh and blood, but principalities and powers and rules of the darkness of this world. It sounds to me like some pretty aggressive prayer is called for in terms of the evil propagated by earthly powers. 2 Thessalonians 3:2 gives us the right to pray against evil men, "And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."
In Philippians 4, we are commanded to pray for our anxieties. Many of our anxieties revolve around the Middle East, the economy, etc. We need to pray for these things in detail regularly.
Now second, let's briefly look at qualifications for political leadership. Many know that I Timothy 3 and other passages call for the leaders of the church to be above reproach, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, not dependent on alcohol, not greedy or two faced. While those who have read Romans 13 know that political leaders are ministers of God, it amazes me that they do not consider their qualifications in the same light. While we cannot insist that our leaders are all Christians, and in fact relatively few have been, we can insist that they submit to God because without God, there is no accountability. The ballot box voting events are spread too far apart. Without submission to God, we will have tyranny, and a quick survey of modern history is ample proof of the incredible scope of evil that can be wrought by atheistic or purely secular leaders in very short periods of time. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Amin are past examples. Leaders in North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela and similar men bear close watching, as they have the same characteristics of their evil forebears.
We also have to include in that group those who believe the doctrines of Demons, especially those who are militant such as Islamic fundamentalists, radical Hindus in Nepal and parts of India, violent Buddhists in Sri Lanka, and nominal Christians or cultists who cavort with them or seek to suppress the true gospel single-handedly. Demonic religions and their sympathizers seek to crush authentic Christian witness. We must be careful never to elect any leader who either belongs to one of these groups or who is deliberately or even unwittingly carrying out their agenda. Satan is the father of all lies, and he works in every country to bring forth his anti-Christ Agenda. We must know how to pray, how to vote, and how to do battle in the spirit world. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. So many today are fatalistic about evil. I'm so glad our forebears were not so fatalistic. The freedoms we enjoy today are here because God honored people who spoke up for truth and who put their own bodies on the line for it. That is why we have this country, and more importantly, that is why we have the Bible and that is why we have the true way of salvation preserved to this day. We must preserve these for future generations regardless of the cost. Amen? Amen.