“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” — I Timothy 2:1-2
As a nation that operates under the banner of a democracy, its citizens have a fundamental right to discuss, and even peaceably argue, the pros and cons of how the government is being directed. There are those who support and even love the president, while others are convinced his election was a monumental mistake. Members of the legislative branch — the U.S. Congress — likewise have their cheerleaders and booing sections.
In this entire flurry of disagreement and unsettling politics, just what is the responsibility of the born again Christian? What is he to do in the midst of all the political chaos? In our text Scripture, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, answers that question with specific instructions: we are to make it a priority to Pray for our nation and all who are in authority!
But you can hear someone from the back row: “Why should I pray for this president? I didn’t vote for him; if I prayed anything, it would be to get him out, etc.” Why should we pray for our leaders? Verse two of our text answers, “So we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” Pretty good reason, don’t you think?
Living a quiet and peaceable life means that a nation as a whole is headed in the right direction, filled with a contented and prosperous people walking in the light and love of God. And living in that environment is a divine signal that God’s plan for the land is moving forward.
So what would that plan be? Verse four of 1 Timothy, chapter 2 says God would “have all men to be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth.” So here is the crowning reason God wants His people to pray — so the Gospel can be preached and the lost brought into the Kingdom of God.
Satan has pulled out all the stops, and as far as the United States is concerned, he has made some startling headway. I believe that the assignment has been handed to us, the Christians in the land, to determine if the enemy will continue to succeed. There is no question that if we obey the Biblical admonition to pray for our nation and those in authority, a holy standard will rise up against him.
There is a classic example in the Old Testament where God demonstrates His willingness to respond to intercessory prayer. In Genesis 18, the Lord announced that He was ready to destroy the city of Sodom because of its wickedness. Abraham had family interests there, and the Scriptures say he immediately humbled himself before the Lord and began to intercede. He could have easily “minded his own business”, but instead, he prayed and interceded — for others!
“Lord, if 50 righteous are found in the city, will you destroy them along with the wicked?” The Lord replied, “If I find 50 righteous within the city, I will spare the whole place on their account.”
“How about, Lord, if there are 45?”
“If I find 45, I will spare it.”
“Will you spare it for 40?’
“Yes I will!”
“I know I’m pressing you, Lord, but how about if there are 30 — will you spare it?”
“Yes I will,” answered the Lord. “Please don’t get angry with me, Lord, but what if there are only 20?”
“I will not destroy them if there are 20 righteous in the city.”
“One more time, Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Will you spare the city for the sake of only 10 righteous?”
“Yes”, the Lord replied, “I will spare the entire city if only 10 righteous are found.”
And here Abraham stopped — and I wish he hadn’t. I believe if Abraham had pursued the matter all the way to just one righteous, he would have heard the Lord say, “Yes, I will spare the city for just one righteous person.” But Abraham stopped at 10, and herein lies a lesson for us.
Often when interceding, we stop too quickly — never reaching that point where we know in our spirits that we have asked for God’s best, in full confidence that He will keep His promises. Think about it. He promised to change things for just 10 people; and Jesus told us that under the new covenant “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.” (Matthew 18:19).
The great John Wesley once wrote, “I am convinced that God does nothing in the realm of man except in answer to believing prayer!” I believe that God is looking for those who will humble themselves and seek Him with all their hearts on behalf of our nation and its leaders. Any time you feel like criticizing — Stop — and Pray instead. God will move as His people obey His admonition: “Pray … that you may lead a quiet and peacable life.”