Freedom and Prayer
God lays down a mandate to pray for those in authority through the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV):
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
We are called to pray and intercede. Of course, we are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves. So many times as we love well and serve well and practice acts of kindness for our neighbors, we also become the answer to our neighbor's prayers. Prayer and service are not either/or opposites. Living for Jesus means we both pray and serve. Joseph M. Scriven wrote these words in 1855:
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Paul urges us to pray for "all people—especially for kings and all those in authority." So here's the deal. No President can please all the people all the time. (Seems like a pretty strong understatement in our divided nation, doesn't it?) And no citizen will agree with everything our President does—even if we generally agree with him/her.
What do we do when our President does something we don't like? Our first response as believers ought to be to pray for him/her. Before we make a phone call or send an email or join a protest organization or walk in a demonstration, we ought to pray. And I do not believe Paul has in mind praying curses. I believe Paul means we should ask God to grant wisdom and courage to our President to do the right thing, every single day.
We sometimes take for granted or dismiss the huge weight that rests on the shoulders of the President of the United States of America. As Commander-in-Chief, the President wields great authority through the military. Policy decisions literally affect the very lives of the citizens of our nation. No one human being is up to the task of leading perfectly under such great pressures. It is no accident that one can see the aging of a President during the term of office.
Politics aside, it is God's will that "kings and those in authority" lead nations into good and not evil, and into righteousness and not tyranny. In a perfect world, leaders would lead under God's authority in humility, and always with the good of the people of the nation in mind. Sadly, we live in a fallen world, and kings and presidents sometimes govern with a different priority than the good of the people—the priority of staying in power.
And politics aside, the prayers of the people can move God to bless a nation in spite of the errors of its leaders. Truth is, our President needs our prayers. And so do the Congress and our Governor and State Legislature and our local leaders.
Let us pray for our governing authorities at every level to have wisdom and courage. Let us pray for them to seek to do what is right and good for all the people. Let us pray against the corrupting influence of money and power. Let us pray for "kings and those in authority" because God calls us to do so.
Let us resist partisan politics and use the power of our own vote to seek out statesmen who do what is right for the country, rather than politicians who do what is right for getting reelected. Let us do everything in our power to make our nation a place of "...liberty and justice for all."
God bless America!