Praying for Our Kings

I want to be both politically neutral and correct in making an assertion. In my lifetime (my dear mother [whom we buried this week] named me after a general soon-to-become president named Eisenhower and a preacher named Moody) I do not recall a more contentious build-up to a new president and his administration than the one we are experiencing. In a few hours Donald John Trump will take the oath for the office of President of the United States, and a new chapter in this nation’s history will begin. And how shall we respond?

The Bible lists not a single caveat nor even one exception clause in its profound advocacy to pray for political leaders in power: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for  kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Be reminded that when the apostle Paul wrote this call to prayer, Nero was the reigning monarch in the Roman Empire.

And please note this is not simply a call to intercede for our new president. It is also an appeal to give “thanksgiving” for our leader(s). Clearly Paul commands no begrudging prayers, but rather fervent thanksgiving prayers. And given the political climate in the empire when Paul wrote this admonition, it is just as clear that he cannot be describing a “thank God my political views have won” sort of congratulatory prayer either.

Why would Paul issue such a clarion call to pray for our kings? He is quick to list the reasons: (1) that we may live peaceful lives; (2) that we may live quiet lives; (3) that we may live in godliness and holiness; (4) because such praying is good and pleases God; so that (5) all people might be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Five compelling reasons why you and I should fervently pray for the new President.

Thus, it matters not how the political fortunes of this nation and the nations of the world may yet twist and turn. The imperative is unmistakably clear: Pray for your king. And so, in obedience to the Lord of Lords and King of kings (and if you prefer, the President of presidents), let this faith community lift up our collective and private voices in intercession to Him who “deposes kings and raises up others . . . [who] knows what lies in darkness” (Daniel 2:21-22). Let us pray for our kings, for the sake of our Lord’s saving mission, for the sake of yet reaching the people of this nation and world with the glad tidings: “The King is coming.”

Amen.

Comments

Did someone say "pray for these jokes - and jokers - that are in public office??" WILL NOT HAPPEN WITH ME!! I mean EVER! What these clowns will or will not do - including the ones I voted for, and can't stand - they will do whether or not we pray for them. Whether that is the point or the issue or not, is of NO consequence to me. They are not now, nor will ever be deserving of my time with the Almighty. (And that includes someone's wonderful, little no-big-deal "precious Bible verse," stating such. Who cares and big deal! Forget these power-hungry tyrants, even in an American way of Democracy. They have done NOTHING; I mean NOTHING to deserve such prayers. Not even one. The time and the energy will simply not be wasted on these people. Believe me folks. They have their's. No one will stand in the way of their getting more - at the expense of the American Taxpayer. Believe that, if you believe in nothing else. Prayed for or not, these want-to-be towers of political and legislative power have done nothing to deserve such, but bear-down and further destroy whatever is left of this American institution called Democracy. Thank you for your time.

The request to pray is a tall order, indeed. However, if we refuse to pray for our leaders, then are we one with them by default or with Christ?

While I am not sure I agree with the comments made by Bob, neither am I completely convinced by the assertions of our good Pastor. Perhaps the Book of Judges is not the best place to go for examples of how to relate to rulers, but I do not think it can be argued that all kings must be honored and prayed for. Take a look at Judges 3. Eglon of Moab was King over the Israelites for 18 years, and it does not seem the people would have been praying too positively about him. The text says that God gave Israel a deliverer, Ehud (Judges 3:15). Ehud certainly did not pray for the king, because he went off and murdered him. Now, you might argue that this was God's initiative. But with all due respect, I must say that just this one story makes clear that, contrary to the claim made in the lead article above, there is a caveat and an exception. God responded to the request of the Israelites who hated Eglon. They were not thankful for Eglon, but were praying for his demise. Now, I am not suggesting that someone follow the pathway of Ehud in assassinating the king, but I must say that I feel very comfortable in praying that God will quickly bring to an end this farce that America has brought upon itself.

The stories in Judges, and indeed in the Bible, are only an historical record of what people did and how they treated each other. We need to read and evaluate the lessons from those stories and observe God's response to both their apostasy and reformation. The last verse in Judges almost apologetically says, "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Are we to look at the favoritism of Isaac over Ishmael that Abraham expressed and see how that character trait was expressed in the next generations. What did it lead to? What family relationships and social ills were the outcome. Isaac played favorites with Esau over Jacob. How did that work out? And Jacob played favorites with Joseph over all the other brothers. That wasn't a good model we should follow! And just because Jacob had multiple wives, should we conclude that is the pattern to follow, especially as family drama continued to escalate? The book of Judges, as gross as the stories are, actually make God look real good! Judges tells us what kind of God we worship - patient, forgiving, and merciful when the people returned to Him!

HI Dennis: Nothing that you have said negates the fact that God responded to the prayers of the Israelites to deliver them from King Eglon (Judges 3:15). I pray for the present leadership at the GC, though I disagree with a number of things that the current GC President promotes. I also pray for God to work in the lives of world leaders to bring about changes in heart that will stop the killings and brutality faced by so many. Likewise, I will pray for God's Spirit to influence the decisions of the future US administration, so that the proclamation of the gospel will not be hindered and the lives of the people will not be made bitter. But I feel no compunction to rejoice in or blindly accept the behavior and decisions of a clearly immoral leader who over decades has exhibited the characteristics of a narcissistic sociopath. I acknowledge that God gives the kingdom to whomever he wills (Dan 4:25), and that through all the play and counterplay of human interests, God is patiently working out the counsels of his own will (EGW, Educ, 173). Perhaps the winds of strife are being let loose--who am I to say? I do not disagree with the point of the lead article that we should pray for our leaders. What I disagree about is that we are always required to give thanks for our leaders. The text cited (1 Tim 2:1-4) allows also for "requests" and "intercessions," and implies that, just like thanksgiving, these also are "good." While I give thanks for the democracy in which I am presently fortunate enough to live, I feel that God invites me also to intercede on behalf of those who suffer under the leadership of cruel, unwise, greedy, and immoral governments (whether this is in the USA or abroad).. Giving thanks for the freedoms that we have does not demand that I give thanks for mindless partisan gridlock in Congress or the life of an immoral President. In fact, to quote again from EGW, we are encouraged to be men [and women} who are not afraid to "call sin by its right name," and "to stand for the right though the heavens fall" (EGW, Educ, 57). I am not called to judge our leaders because God is the judge, but I have the right under the Constitution and under God to protest what I consider to be the follies of our leaders and to pray for God to deliver us from evil, wherever that evil may be found. Just as I would not pray with thanksgiving for Nero, or Hitler, or Bashar al-Assad, I do not pray with thanksgiving about the misdemeanors and foolish responses that have so far characterized Trump. But I will petition and intercede for God to give wisdom to our leaders, and touch /change the minds, hearts, and actions of people like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Jacob Zuma in my own country (South Africa), and Trump here in the USA. "The Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer." Those words are not merely an historical record of bad times as you suggest. They are also a promise, echoed in the Lord's prayer, that we may claim--whether we claim it in a time when "every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25), when Nero or Hitler were on the throne, or when many fear for America over the next 4 years. God may deliver us through giving Trump a bit more wisdom than he has so far seemed to exhibit, or he may give us some other form of deliverance, or he may be allowing the beginnings of a time of trouble such as never was (Dan 12:1). Whatever the case, I am thankful that God is in control and that he will in the end deliver his people. I do not have to be thankful that Trump thinks he is in control. Now and in the time of trouble, we should be aware that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world's darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph 6:12). If a ruler is not a man of God, he is ruled by another spirit, and we must put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand our ground (v. 13). We cannot merely capitulate and say that we are thankful for the rulers of this world, whether they be flesh and blood influenced by dark spiritual forces, or the dark spiritual forces themselves. I will pray with thanks to God, but I will not at the present time pray with thanks for a chump who has not yet shown himself worthy of respect or the deference that might in other times be accorded a president. I am postmodern enough to agree that respect should not be required but must be earned. I will show respect and give thanks for Trump when he acts presidentially and shows respect for all the people over whom he governs. In the meantime, I petition for deliverance.

My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? [Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, & Zoar (or Bela)] My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. Hosea 11:7, 8 NKJV "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6:27-36 NKJV

We pray about both good and evil in our own lives, thanking God for the good that comes our way and asking Him to correct the evil. Should we not do the same for our leaders (of both church and government)? Should we not be grateful for the good that responsible governments can do, even as we also ask God to restrain them from doing what is evil? The more seriously flawed our leaders seem to be, the more they need our prayers for God to overrule. How can we not take to Him these things that so deeply concern us?

Yes, Pastor Nelson, sure, we will pray for Trump. Here is my prayer: "Lord, deliver us from evil and forgive him for he knows not what he is doing." Amen. :).

I am an ordained minister...now retired. The President-Elect is the absolute antithesis of ALL that I was taught in Church School, Church, Confirmation, Seminary...and 40 years in ministry. I simply cannot fathom that Christians have perpetrated this horrific moment!!! This is a serious indictment of the Church and its clergy.

Amen, Pastor Nelson! Are we not commanded to give "thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20)? That's not only the good things. I firmly believe that God uses everything (even the poor or even evil choices of others that might affect me) for my good because I love Him and I am His child. I agree that it's a tall order to be thankful for the present leadership, but God is in the business of equipping us to take on His tall orders! And...I'm excited about what God is about to do. I believe we're at the very end of Earth's history as we know it, and governments won't maintain the status quo as end-time events happen. Isn't that good news?!

I am astonished and embarrassed that quoting Paul's admonition to "pray for those in authority" could be so controversial! It is no wonder our nation is so utterly divided when people who claim to be Christians cannot even stand united on one clear, simple verse from the Word of God. The demonstrated anger, hatred, and lack of love certainly makes me wonder if many in the "church" have any understanding of, or relationship with the Lord. And, as always, people "prove" their bigotry by quoting bible verses. Bless you Pastor Dwight; be strong, and keep preaching what the Lord lays on your heart!

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