Paul wrote, “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Christians are commanded to pray for our government leaders whether we like them or not. Paul lived under the Roman government that was ruled by Nero; he was a very wicked, vile, wretched, perverted man who persecuted many Christians. Paul was beaten, put in jail, and eventually killed by the Roman leaders. Paul was in a Roman jail and expecting to be killed and he didn’t criticize the Roman government leaders (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul did use the government laws to further the kingdom of Jesus Christ when he had the opportunity (Acts 25).
“For 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” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God wants all people to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of God’s truths so His truths will be operative in our society. Whether our leaders are good or bad, cruel or wicked, peaceful or warlike; Christians are to pray for all government leaders for their salvation. Why? Because government leaders play such a tremendous role in our life and in the life of Jesus’ church. We know that Jesus Christ has absolute control over His church (Matthew 16:18); but He allows His church to be under worldly government control to a certain degree. Because of their authority over us we should be good citizens, and we ought to pray for them.
Paul wrote, “Remind them [Christians] to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1-2). Paul doesn’t say pray for their removal from office or get rid of all the leaders who disagree with us. Paul certainly doesn’t say to replace them all with Christians. Paul says to pray that God will save them. Why have many of Jesus Christ’s followers lost that command? Because many Christians have forgotten the importance of bringing lost souls into God’s eternal kingdom!
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus’ command to all Christians is to witness to everyone about Jesus Christ. Christians are to pray for all city, county, state, and federal rulers that are the authorities in America.
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Christians are told to speak evil of no person (Titus 3:2, 1 Peter 3:10). Our words and actions are heard and seen by everyone we’re around. Jesus said, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). Moses wrote in the Law, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28).
Saint Francis of Assisi once invited a young monk to accompany him to town to preach. The novice was honored at the opportunity. The two set out for the city, then walked up and down the main street, then several side streets. They chatted with peddlers and greeted the citizens. After some time, they returned by another route to the abbey. The young man reminded Francis of his original intent. “You have forgotten, Father, that we went to town to preach.” “My son,” he replied, “We have preached. We have been seen by many. Our behavior was closely watched. Our attitudes were closely measured. Our words have been overheard. It was by thus that we preached our morning sermon.”
Christians are to be loyal to our government because it’s ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7). Christians are to honor the king (President) and do what’s right before all other leaders and respect them so that there’s nothing they can say against us (1 Peter 2:17-21). Christians should be good citizens and set an example for unbelievers.
Too many evangelical Christians are criticizing our leaders, even though the Bible says to pray for their salvation. It would be much better if Jesus’ church took the money, energy and time it spends in political lobbying and maneuvering and put all our efforts and resources into praying for and witnessing to our political leaders; only God can actually change a person’s thinking and actions.
Tertullian (160-230 AD) wrote, “The Christian is the enemy of no man, least of all the emperor. For we know that since he has been appointed by God it is necessary that we should love him and reverence him and honor him and desire his safety. Therefore we sacrifice for the safety of the emperor.”
Theophilus of Antioch wrote, “The honor that I will give the emperor is all the greater because I will not worship him, but I will pray for him. I will worship no one but the true and real God for I know that the emperor was appointed by Him. Those give real honor to the emperor who are well disposed to him, who obey him, and who pray for him.”
Samuel said, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). Jesus said, “Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). Not praying for our government leaders is sinning against God!