Christianity 201

February 21, 2022

Prayers and Due Honor to Leaders

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints – Ephesians 6:18

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. — 1 Peter 2:13-14 NLT

Several times in scripture we are reminded to pray for, and offer obedience to those who have been placed in charge over us. We have readers here from around the world, but usually government involves our cities and towns; our larger regions, often called counties, or in larger sense, states or provinces; and our federal (national) government.

We also need to remember those who draft the laws, those who are tasked with enforcing the laws, and the judges who must mete out the penalties when laws are broken. Also those Kings and Queens in countries where monarchy exists; along with Prime Ministers and Presidents.

Key verse today:

I believe all those could be included in these words from Paul to Timothy:

1.Tim.2.1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. 2 Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. 3a This is good and pleases God our Savior…

In a May, 2021 article that was linked here but not quoted, Dave Lowe wrote, using capital letters no less, that this includes praying for political rivals:

We are more divided than ever and much of our division is a result of our political views that are not embraced by those on the other side of the political aisle. But if I’m taking this passage to heart and seeking to implement this wisdom that Paul gave to Timothy so long ago, then I need to pray for those in authority, EVEN IF THEY DON’T REPRESENT MY POLITICAL POSITIONS.

A month later, we quoted from Melody at In Pleasant Places, who wrote concerning the connection between praying for leaders, and leading a peaceful life.

…The study notes in my Bible connect the two pieces, stating, “This sort of living commends the gospel.”

Our sharing of the gospel, then, is inseparably impacted by the manner in which we live. Because with our whole lives, including those moments when we are alone, we are witnesses to the truth of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and salvation of us, and witnesses to His power to change us at our very core. We speak and we live the truth, and this shows those around us that what we declare is real and life-changing.

Prayer is crucial to this – to all of it. As we intentionally and consistently lean our hearts toward the gospel in prayer, God’s heart and His truth strengthen within us. And perhaps we will begin to live with the focus of Paul: “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23); “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10)…

In January, 2018 our friend Jill shared with us a scripture medley calling us to pray for world affairs. As I looked at it again today, I noticed that the two largest citations were from Psalm 2, and reading it in light of world affairs today, I decided to share it here in full from the NLT.

Psalm 2

Why are the nations so angry?
    Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
    the rulers plot together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.
“Let us break their chains,” they cry,
    “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
    The Lord scoffs at them.
Then in anger he rebukes them,
    terrifying them with his fierce fury.
For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
    in Jerusalem,[a] on my holy mountain.”

The king proclaims the Lord’s decree:
“The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son.[b]
    Today I have become your Father.[c]
Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
    the whole earth as your possession.
You will break[d] them with an iron rod
    and smash them like clay pots.’”

10 Now then, you kings, act wisely!
    Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the Lord with reverent fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Submit to God’s royal son,[e] or he will become angry,
    and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
    But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

In December, 2015, Clarke Dixon shared with us the view from the other side; the picture of a king himself asking for wisdom.

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people. (1 Kings 3:7-9)

Finally, almost ten years ago, in May, 2012, our online friends Stephen and Brooksyne Weber shared this related verse and commentary at Daily Encouragement.

“If my people, who are called by my Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Their devotional continued,

…[T]he vast majority of our population gives little or no attention to God. Our government and court systems increasingly pass laws and policies that will surely lead to persecution for the believers. Our arts and entertainment industry is a cesspool of immorality. Broken marriages and troubled households abound and in recent years a massive effort is being made to drastically redefine the God-ordained institution of holy marriage. Violence fills the land. Our educational system has been very successful at breaking down the moral constraints. Brooksyne and I see this brokenness first hand in our ministry to the workplace, but it’s evident to anyone who turns on the news or reads a newspaper. I believe one of the greatest evidences of this escalating trouble is spiritual blindness.

I have often pondered the daily verse and committed it to memory many years ago. It will surely be quoted in many prayer services today. It is initially expressed as a condition and promise to Solomon during a time of great personal and national consecration as the temple is being dedicated approximately 3,000 years ago. I believe there is an element to this promise that is unique to Israel as a nation, who as a national people were called by God’s Name.

The phrase “My people” in the daily verse in its initial application applied to these people and their specific land. Thus I feel there is interpretive error when we view our specific country (wherever we live) as God’s land in the same sense as that spoken of in the initial promise. True believers foundationally hold heavenly citizenship (far superior to our national citizenship).

Having said that, I believe there is still great application in the condition and promise today. There is surely a sense that “My people” today refers to the redeemed in Christ who live throughout the world.

God requires these conditions of His people:

  • Humble themselves
  • Pray
  • Seek My face
  • Turn from their wicked ways

God promises these blessings for His people:

  • Then will I hear from heaven
  • And will forgive their sin
  • And will heal their land

So remember, to pray for those in authority over us, by whatever power that authority is granted, and in whatever situation you find yourself in our world.


 

Footnotes for the Psalm 2 quotation

  1. Hebrew on Zion.
  2. Or Son; also in 2:12
  3. Or Today I reveal you as my son.
  4. Greek version reads rule. Compare Rev. 2:27
  5. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

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