Christianity 201

July 16, 2019

Pray for Authorities

by Russell Young

The Scriptures tell believers to pray for their leaders. “I urge you, then, first of all, that requests, 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.” (1 Tim 2:1− 3)

We live in a partisan world, but it has always been so. In spite of this, Paul admonished believers to hold up their leaders, not because they agree with them, but that they could live peaceful, godly, and quiet lives. Prayers ought not to be dependent upon the persuasions of those in authority and their political aspirations, they are to be in pursuit of our peace and godliness and the Lord has placed all authorities in their positions.

Paul’s words are challenging. It is hard to pray for those in power especially when they appear to attack the things that we value. However, the prayers of the righteous are to achieve God’s objectives. Unless the throne of grace is approached a lack of interest in our condition, and for his glorification within our countries, is demonstrated.

Hosea has revealed the Lord’s judgment against the leaders and the people of Israel. He stated, “A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD. Israel’s arrogance testifies against them.” (Hos 5:4−5) The “spirit of prostitution” was the spirit that permitted their lives to be lived according to their own unholy interests and practices. They deemed themselves to be ‘captains of their own ships.” In their arrogance they felt no need for the one who had guided and protected them for so many years but rested in their own abilities and life choices. The LORD noted, “I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah.” (Hos 5:12) In their distress the tribes of Israel had sought help from Assyria while ignoring God. “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face—in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hos 5:13−15) Throughout their history the sovereignty of the LORD had been ignored or challenged. The Israelites and the leaders during Hosea’s time had dismissed him as one to be honored. They had lost sight of their holy and loving God and no longer considered him to be of relevance in their lives.

Before transferring his kingship to his son Solomon, King David exercised poor judgment bringing deadly consequences for many in the nation of Israel. He effectively dismissed the might of his God and had presumed that the power and protection of God’s chosen people rested in themselves. He commanded that a census be made of his fighting men. He had forgotten that the LORD was his strength even through he had been throughout their history. The consequence did not fall on David alone however, it fell on the nation. The death of many by the plague rested on those that David called his “sheep.” (2 Sam 24:15) They had to bear the consequence of their leader’s decision.

Our authorities are part of our national body and have been put in place by God for the achievement of his agenda. Prayers and petitions for authorities need not be directed for partisan political purposes but for enhancement of the Lord’s kingdom within our own nations. Through the affirmation of his rule believers can enjoy peace and a godly state.

We do not need to use the weapons of those around us to influence policies; the option of prayer is a much greater power than is often appreciated. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Cor 10:3−4) Authorities need the wisdom of God in this complicated and perverse world and they need to be provided insight from the one who has it.

God’s people should not take his blessings upon their nation as something deserved. He finds pleasure in the humble, in those who recognize his majesty and authority and who come before him with a contrite heart and for the pursuit of his purposes. Even David, a man after his own heart, lapsed into failure and brought condemnation on his people.

Paul wrote that “men are without excuse. For although they knew God (through his creation), they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom 1:20−21) Perhaps the godlessness that has invaded our nations is the result of his “turning his back” on the nations because he has been neglected by those in authority and by those who can enlist the divine power to destroy strongholds.

Those who want to see just, righteous, and godly government and who want to live in peace need to take greater ownership in their national development before he “returns to his lair” and they are condemned to bear their guilt before seeking his face—and in their misery earnestly seek him. The halls of power are not so far away that they cannot be influenced by the Lord Almighty through prayer. “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2) We have not been commanded to agree with our leaders and their values, but we have been commanded to pray for them so that we might live in peace and godliness.

Russell Young’s column appears here on alternate Tuesdays. His first book, Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” Really? is available in print and eBook in the U.S. through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.

To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link. There is also an extended article at this link.

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