Pray for Government
- 1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
- 1 Timothy 2:3-4 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
It is foolish to believe that Christians should not be active in politics and expect that politics, under its own devices, will be guided by godly principles. If the Christians do not stake out the territory, the lost will certainly take the land, and do with it according to their fleshly desires. And everyone suffers. We know from the above reference verse that Christians must be involved in politics. It is our calling. In this documents, I wish to provide tips and guidelines concerning proper prayer for government.
Prayer has advantages over other forms of government activism. One, our petition is heard, and not lost in an official's garbage can because you don't have the money to buy his attention. Second, God is not swayed by popular vote or opinion that is tainted by selfishness. Third is, and we should not forget this, God is all-powerful, and is the King of all government.
The prayer for government I typically hear is, "Give government the wisdom to do the right thing." This is good, since it aligns itself with the prayer that Solomon prayed for himself, as recorded in 1 Kings 3:9 So give your servant a discerning mind so he can make judicial decisions for your people and distinguish right from wrong. Otherwise no one is able to make judicial decisions for this great nation of yours.” However, we point out that Solomon prayed for himself, and had the full intention of applying that wisdom to make just judgements. Solomon understood that government's highest, and only, priority to do exactly this.
What good is the above if the government official, the object of our prayer, has no intention of judging justly? Suppose God gives him the necessary wisdom. He will not do it! To pray effectively, we must know what we are dealing with.
I believe it reasonable that first and foremost we should formulate our prayer with an understanding of the proper roll of government. Outside of this, our prayers are poorly directed. Sucsinctly, the job of government is to punish wrong-doers. Reciprocal to this is that government should not act on or against those who have done no wrong.Let us take a look at Psalms 94.
- Psalms 94:1 O LORD, the God who avenges! O God who avenges, reveal your splendor!
- Psalms 94:2 Rise up, O judge of the earth! Pay back the proud!
- Psalms 94:3 O LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked celebrate?
- Psalms 94:4 They spew out threats and speak defiantly; all the evildoers boast.
- Psalms 94:5 O LORD, they crush your people; they oppress the nation that belongs to you.
- Psalms 94:6 They kill the widow and the one residing outside his native land, and they murder the fatherless.
- Psalms 94:7 Then they say, “The LORD does not see this; the God of Jacob does not take notice of it.”
- Psalms 94:8 Take notice of this, you ignorant people! You fools, when will you ever understand?
- Psalms 94:9 Does the one who makes the human ear not hear? Does the one who forms the human eye not see?
- Psalms 94:10 Does the one who disciplines the nations not punish? He is the one who imparts knowledge to human beings!
- Psalms 94:11 The LORD knows that peoples’ thoughts are morally bankrupt!
- Psalms 94:12 How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O LORD, the one whom you teach from your law,
- Psalms 94:13 in order to protect him from times of trouble, until the wicked are destroyed.
- Psalms 94:14 Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him.
- Psalms 94:15 For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated.
- Psalms 94:16 Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers?
- Psalms 94:17 If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death.
- Psalms 94:18 If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me.
- Psalms 94:19 When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy.
- Psalms 94:20 Cruel rulers are not your allies, those who make oppressive laws.
- Psalms 94:21 They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent.
- Psalms 94:22 But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me.
- Psalms 94:23 He will pay them back for their sin. He will destroy them because of their evil; the LORD our God will destroy them.
To set the stage for the discussion, notice that the entire section concerns itself with "those who make oppressive laws". Since government makes laws, the psalmist is referring to government officials. Telling is also the fact that the psalmist is speaking/praying to God, as in "O Lord", "O Judge of the earth" and "God of Jacob". We have in Psalm 94 a biblical example of how we ought to pray to influence politics.
The eye-opening feature is that the psalmist makes a specific request for God to act on the government officials. The psalmist asks God to give them something, but that something has nothing to do with "wisdom". Here we note what the psalmists asks to do to the government officials:
- Pay back the proud
- Stand up against them
- Destroy them
The faint at heart may feel this is too harsh. But we have to remember that our sword may get bloody when we ride into battle. And a battle it is. Not that we want it, but that they have started it. See here the activities and attitudes of the governors:
- Spew threats and speak defiantly, full of boasting.
- Crush God's people. Oppress God's nation.
- Kill the widow and the foreigner, murder the fatherless.
- Claim there is no God to see it.
- Are orally bankrupt.
- Make oppressive laws.
- Conspire against the blameless (those who have done no wrong).
In today's world, the exact crimes committed by officials may change, but the spirit will remain the same. Our leaders are haughty, they kill the unborn, they oppress us by regulating every nook and cranny of our lives, they take 50% of our earnings, they conspire to steal even more from the "wealthy", they silence those who proclaim God's laws with "hate crime laws", they steal from one to give to lobbyists and voters, they are morally bankrupt touting laws to promote sexual immorality, they claim there is no God.
It is time for Christians to stop giving injustice a free pass, and become assertive. Instead of prayers centered on "give them wisdom", we should be shouting, "give them justice!". In fact, one can formulate the entire prayer for government above with this: "Give those in power who do wicked the judgement they deserve, and protect those who love you from their evil plans."
I am convinced that if Christians were to pray like the above, we would see two things among the corrupt:
- Public disclosure of scandals leading to loss of position.
I have a personal testimony. When living in Germany, a party distributed anti-Semitic literature the night before an election. It was not so much the party, but a lone party member acting on his own. He did this to win votes, and he expected to be the hero of his party for planning and acting out such a bold move. The attack back-fired, for the party was expected to win previous to this distribution, but lost because the voters were appalled by the Nazi-like propaganda. I prayed a very short prayer, reminding God of his promise to deal with those harshly who treat His people wrongly; that this individual be judged for his action. Within two weeks he was under investigation on account of his companies not paying taxes. About a week later, he fell to his death in a parachute accident (although some suggested it was suicide).
As a current (April 2012) resident of the United States, I am entitled to determine what the offices in Washington, and in the capitols of most States, most desperately need. They need a cleansing judgement. They need judgement so that the office holders may come to repentance, and they need judgement, so that we can live in peace.
The Government section of the His Kingdom is chalk full of biblical and extra-biblical discussion about what government is, what it should do, and what is should not do. Perusing these pages will give you a fundamental basis for prayer. Below I submit a few anchors as broad prayer themes:
- Protect those who do no wrong.
- Judge those who use their power to enrich themselves and their friends.
- Judge those who honor immorality, or punish those who proclaim righteousness.
We have looked at only one chapter in the Psalms. The Psalms are full of prayers calling for God to excise judgement on evil government rulers. The Prophets pronounce judgements on wicked rulers. The books of Kings and Chronicles provide a wealth of examples of poor and good government. I'd encourage the reader to keep the concepts introduced above in the back of his mind while reading the the Bible. Use the examples in the Bible to guide your prayer.
How much more harshly and quickly should a judge be judged compared to a citizen? Is it too much to ask that a person tasked with judging should judge correctly, and that this person should be removed when he does not perform his duties faithfully? The Egyptians were not judged until the people cried out to God against the oppressors. We must do the same, or we will give to our children an oppressive government as an inheritance.
Speaking about the current situation in the United States as of April 2012, I suspect that 80% to 90% of the government officials would be replaced should judgement occur. There is a lot to pray about.