“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. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
In Luke 20:25, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” As Christians, we hold a dual citizenship. First and foremost, we are citizens of Heaven. Second, we are citizens of the state. As a result of our dual citizenship, we have responsibilities to both God and Caesar, so it is important that we render to both their dues.
One of the things owed to Caesar is our prayers. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul writes: “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. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
In exhorting us to pray “for all men” Paul singles out “kings and all that are in authority.” Why? Is God more concerned with the powerful than the populace? No, unlike the world, God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). In His eyes, there is no difference between potentates and peasants.
The reason we are exhorted to pray especially for political leaders is because they hold such sway over the quality of life in our society. It is not because they have some special favor with God. Rather, it is because they have such influence over our way of life.
Proverbs 21:2 teaches us: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will.” If we clasp our hands in prayer for political leaders, God, who holds their hearts in His hand, can sway them to keep our society “quiet and peaceable.” In such a society, Christians can practice their faith, publicly worship their Lord, and propagate their land with the gospel. According to Paul, “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Notice, the reason “God our Saviour” wants a “quiet and peaceable” society is so that men will “be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Where is it easier for sinners to be saved and learn of Christ—in a Muslim land where Christians are arrested for witnessing to others, in a Communist land where the church is prohibited from preaching the gospel, or in a free society where the church is permitted to practice and proclaim its faith? Obviously, the easiest place for sinners to be saved is in a free society. This is why God wants us praying especially for our political leaders.
God is not so much concerned with politics as He is with the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God does cares for our political leaders. He cares just as much, however, for their constituency. God wants all men from the White House to your house to have an opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved. Thus, He instructs us to pray “for all men” but especially “for kings and all of those in authority” so that we will have a “quiet and peaceable” society in which everyone will have an opportunity to hear the gospel and “come to the knowledge of the truth.”
For too long now this biblical admonition to pray for our political leaders has been misinterpreted to mean that Christians are divinely duty bound to pray God’s blessings down on every politician elected to political office. Nowhere, however, does the Bible admonish us to offer up blanket-prayers of unconditional divine blessings upon politicians who promote the most ungodly policies, as well as propose and pass the most ungodly legislation.
When it comes to praying for some present-day politicians, about the only prayer I know to pray for them, apart from any the Spirit specifically burdens me to pray, is a prayer for their personal salvation. Otherwise, I limit myself to praying as the Bible teaches me to pray, that the invisible hand of God will continue to sway our political leaders to act justly and enact godly legislation so that our society will remain free and open to the public proclamation of the gospel.
Pray that those in authority will be used by God to keep our society free and open to the public proclamation of the Gospel so that all Americans will have an opportunity “to come unto the knowledge of the truth” and “be saved.”