Consider the following passages of scripture…
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, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:1-3, ESV).
Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3, ESV).
Three lessons in scripture about 1) politics, 2) unity of believers and 3) prayer for our leaders.
Which selection below should describe followers of Jesus?
Selection A: Prayer, unity, and then politics.
Selection B: Politics, little if any prayer, and no unity.
For years, I’ve prayed for our government leaders, especially those with politics with which I disagree – I think they need a lot of prayers (Calm down, Pastor Grant!). Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies, and too often we treat those of differing views as enemies.
I’ve developed guidelines in my praying for government leaders.
- If I’m not praying for a politician I should not be criticizing their viewpoints.
- If I do disagree with a government leader, I pray that God surrounds this leader with counselors who understand godly wisdom.
- I pray for the President, Vice President, Congressional leaders of my district, and local government officials by name. I find mentioning their name in prayer activates the Spirit of love within me for them. Yes, more difficult to love some leaders than others, but Jesus teaches us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
- I ask that they would be guided by God’s love in their decision-making and not by arrogance or malevolence. I ask that they earnestly seek God’s will for our country.
- I ask that they be thankful for our country and the blessings that God has given the U.S.A. Gratitude produces better policies than anger!
This is how I pray for the government of the United States of America. But…
I have friends around the world who live under political oppression. I hesitate to give them advice, as I don’t understand or have experience with severe political persecution. Jesus does tell us to pray for those who persecute us, and I realize that standing for Kingdom values will place citizens of some countries in direct opposition to their government.
Jesus and the Apostle Paul lived in times of persecution. Jesus was crucified and Paul was beheaded.
For all of us, regardless of the country in which we live, the advice of Jesus and Paul is helpful:
Jesus: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Seeking first the Kingdom of God quells anger and keeps inner peace during the tempest of ungodly politics. Even if we have the right politics, it is too easy to be overcome by anger and thus fall into sin ourselves.
If I lose the love of Jesus and I don’t pray for government officials – I should not be talking about politics in public or with my friends.
And you shouldn’t either.