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.
~I Timothy 2:1-4
The historic day in our history as a nation is approaching as tomorrow, Barack Obama, the first African-American president will be sworn in as the 44th leader of the United States of America. The nation will once again have new leadership as Mr. Obama brings his administration to the White House. While a lot is being undertaken for this event, one of the best things we Christians can and must do is to pray for our leaders as God has commanded us in His Word.
Paul instructs Timothy to encourage those in Ephesus to pray for all men. In fact, he gives three things the believers are to do: pray (entreaties and prayers), petition and praise (thanksgiving). We are to lift up one another in prayer. We are to intercede on others' behalf. We are also to praise God for the work which He is doing in others' lives. However, in addition to the broad category which would include everyone, Paul mentions a specific category of people whom we should pray for: kings and all who are in authority. Paul specifically points out the government leaders. It is interesting that he takes a brief moment to bring attention to them.So many times we fail to pray for the president and those who work for the government as well as others whom the Lord has placed in authority over us. I must confess that I do not include these regularly in my own daily prayers as I ought. Yet, these people need our prayers. I cannot imagine how much stress the president is under every day with so many important decisions to make as well as the burden on those in Congress with the weight of carrying the needs of their constituents on their shoulders. And with the economy the way it is and the major issues at stake, all of these could use our prayers. The work they have to do sure would make my papers, readings, and exams appear as a "piece of cake."
While all of these are important things to pray for, Paul seems to have a greater need in mind. Vv. 3-4 seems to indicate that the content of these prayers should be for the salvation for those in authority as well as all men. I believe that Paul is saying here based on the context that God desires all types of men to be saved, whether that be those serving in government or peasant farmers. God does not show partiality to anyone based on their status or role, or nationality as is seen with God saving both Jews and Gentiles. We need to pray that the Lord would work mightly in our leaders' lives and sovereignly open up their hearts and draw them to Him. One of the greatest things we can do as a US citizen here on this earth is to pray for our senators, congressman, and the President and his cabinet. Several of the government leaders really need the Lord. We should pray that they come to know the only God and only mediator, Jesus Christ, who enables for us to have a relationship with God. After all, what better citizens can we be on earth by praying for our earthly leaders' salvation. And for those who are saved, by praying that the Lord would strengthen them and enable them to use their position which He has given them all for His glory!
Another thing I want to point out is that Paul did not say to only pray for those leaders whom you like or those who support the issues which are important to you. Whether a Democrat or a Republican is in office should not effect our praying for them. These prayers are for all men and all who are in authority. In fact, the emperior at the time of this letter was no friend to Paul or any Christian. The emperor at the time was probably Nero who heavily persecuted Christians and even blamed them for the burning of Rome. Something which he possibly did himself. He would have been included in this instruction.Also, Paul did not put a limit on how many times one should pray for one another and our leaders. He did not give a certain day. We should be lifting up our leaders everyday. With all of the hype for this historic inauguration day, let's not forget to pray!
Soli Deo Gloria!