First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1–4
“Pray for all people but especially the civic rulers, leaders, and authorities.” I’m not political and I don’t intend to change that with this post. But I can’t help but comment on Paul’s charge to Timothy and the local church in Ephesus to pray for the salvation of earthly authorities. He asserts that doing so is pleasing in the sight of God and that it is God’s desire that none perish but that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
What’s interesting about Paul giving this command is if you consider the context and atmosphere in which Paul was writing this letter to Timothy. The Roman Empire was shaky and the resentment and persecution of Christians was escalating. Being a Christian was not the “popular” thing at that time (kind of like today). In fact, it could be downright dangerous. Despite all of this, Paul’s desire is that the church would pray for the salvation of all who are in high positions.
Just as interesting is what Paul didn’t say:
- Pray that the rulers and authorities with which you disagree are removed from office
- Pray that the rulers and authorities start making decisions with which you agree and align with your personal values and principles
- Pray for the rulers and authorities that are affiliated with your political party of choice
- Pray for the rulers and authorities who you think have earned it or are deserving of your prayers
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pray for God’s Holy Spirit to move in the hearts and minds of the men and women that govern us so that they might make decisions that bring honor and glory to God. All I’m saying is that Paul’s focus was on their salvation not their policy. He desired that their hearts would be transformed more than seeing their voting record transformed. He realized that redeeming the person was more important than redeeming the politics. He realized that if hearts are changed, behavior follows.
Here’s the challenge for you: whenever you are tempted to rail against how godless your political leaders are, use it as a trigger and a reminder to pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit their hearts would be captivated by the love of God and that by His grace they might be saved and enter into new life. Remember that it is only by grace that you have been saved, a gift from God that you did not earn. Ask Jesus to fill you with compassion for your political leaders and desire that they also would receive the gift of eternal life.
Would you really be happy if your political leaders legislate in a way of which you approve but never come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Would you really be pleased if they pass “good” laws but go to hell?
Ask God to search your heart on this matter and perhaps He will also more fully reveal His own heart.