By Randall A. Bach
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live (1 Timothy 2:1-3, MSG).
As I write this, I do not know who the next President of the United States will be, the incumbent, Donald Trump, or the challenger, Joe Biden. What an ideal time to reflect on our responsibility as dual citizens, of heaven and the United States!
We have lived through an exhausting series of months with COVID-19, racial tension, breakdown of order in major cities, disasters with massive fires and repeated hurricanes or tropical storms, battles over the next Supreme Court Justice appointee, and campaigns for office. It has been wearying. In addition, polarization in our nation is so great that even those issues that should be matters for basic problem-solving escalate into the taking of political sides that overshadow and neglect that which needs attention. Political communication has become intensely hostile, strident, personal, and caustic in tone. The internet and broadcast media have been filled by posts and videos that include name-calling more befitting children in an argument than adults working to find solutions. Only the most devoted muck stirrers can enjoy the foul air of contention that we must breathe.
So now, after the name-calling and focus on the other candidate’s negative characteristics, one of the presidential candidates will be privileged to take the oath of office in January for a four-year term. Is he your guy, or the other guy? You either celebrate or groan. But, is that all?
No matter who is selected, your candidate or the other, all Christians have responsibility, no matter their political persuasion, toward the President of the United States: we are commanded to pray for those in authority, independent of their political affiliation. We do not have the option of just praying for the President when he is our preferred pick. The Apostle Paul, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit wrote to his protégé, Timothy: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NLT). Not one word of qualification or exception is offered regarding praying for those in authority.
Do you favor living a peaceful and quiet life with godliness and dignity? That verse isn’t referring to heaven. It is referring to this world, in 2020 and beyond. Such a quality of life is linked to praying for people who are in authority. What if the President does not recognize God and is ungodly in his personal life and his governmental pursuits? Then we need to pray for godly people to be sovereignly placed where they can provide God-honoring and God-directed influence, men and women like Daniel, Joseph, and Esther, who might be invisible to the public but have favor and are persuasive with the President.
There are so many aspects of our President’s life and responsibility for which we can pray. Here are ten:
- Relationship with God
- Respect for godly morals and institutions
- Favor among nations
- Physical and emotional health
The Apostle Paul wrote, “The first thing I want you to do is pray.” It seems like Americans’ natural impulse is to first criticize, complain, and think we know better than the President how the nation should be led. Did the Apostle Paul know about Americans? It seems as if he were writing directly to us: “the first thing I want you to do….”! No matter who the next President is, I know this about him. He has feet of clay. He is imperfect. He will make mistakes. He will be under immense pressure. His life will be threatened. He will be the object of hostility and hate. He needs prayer!
Here is a clincher about why we should pray for our President: “This is good and pleases God our Savior.” Let’s resolve to please the Lord by praying for President [Name].