I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
We don’t have any kings in the United States but we do have a President and other leaders who are in authority. I pray on a regular basis for our leaders – local and national – as well as the leaders of other countries. My prayers usually go something like this:
“Lord, I lift up leaders and those in authority in our country. I pray that they look to you for wisdom and not to the powers of this world. May their hearts be devoted to you above all things and may that lead their actions.”
Especially in recent times, I’ve added prayers for our country. I pray for equality, tolerance, and a spirit of community. What I don’t, and can’t, pray for is for our devotion to Christ to be embodied in our government. Do I want our leaders to be faithful Christians? Yes. Do I want the decisions they make to be consistent with God’s character? Yes. Do I want individuals to love their neighbor as much as themselves? Yes. Do I want this to be law? No.
Although nations may serve God’s purposes in history, the church which identifies the sovereignty of any one nation or any one way of life with the cause of God denies the Lordship of Christ and betrays its calling. – The Confession of 1967, PC(USA)
Sometimes we call the United States a Christian nation. While justice, compassion, and freedom may be included in our founding documents (although we fall short of truly wanting and offering these for everyone), we are not a nation of any one religion. And that’s OK. Because when any one faith becomes law, we move from justice, compassion, and freedom to punitive action. Discipline and correction in the Church is meant to be corrective and restorative. It should happen in community and by intimate community as part of mutually accountable relationships.We are not a nation of any one religion. And that’s OK. Because when any one faith becomes law, we move from justice, compassion, and freedom to punitive action. Click To Tweet
When we become a theocracy, we jeopardize freedom in Christ and lose the intimacy of community. We hold as guilty those who do not believe as we do rather than entering into relationship with them. We stifle doubts, differing perspectives, and needed debate on how we live our faith. We begin to focus more on enforcement than worship.
As we pray for our country and our leaders this July 4th, may we pray for them as individuals as well as in their official capacity. As we give thanks for our freedom, may our prayers include freedom for all peoples. And may the peace of Christ reign in our hearts, leading our individual actions so that justice may roll like a river and righteousness like a never-ending stream(Amos 5:24). Let us pray:
As we become before the Lord in prayer, we give thanks for the freedom to gather in worship. May our individual hearts be devoted to you and in this way, may our collective lives reflect your goodwill.
We pray for our elected leaders. In particular, for President Trump and Vice-President Pence as they seek to lead a divided country and ask that those who advise them be endowed with your wisdom. We lift up to you Speaker Ryan and House Minority Leader Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Schumer; and those who represent us in Congress – praying that you would encourage them in the work they do.
Whether we agree with them or not, we pray for their well-being and that they would know your presence in their lives. We ask that power and fame not drive their decisions but the understanding and interests of our shared life together. Grant them the heart to seek to understand as fervently as they seek to persuade. We also pray for the encouragement and safety of their families in the times of separation public service requires.
For those whose lives are upended by the whims of politics, we pray for order in the midst of chaos. May the freedom we cherish lead to a desire that others would share in that freedom. Regardless of economic class, ethnicity, legal status, education level, or whether we live in rural, urban, or suburban areas, we pray for the well-being of our neighbor. May we seek a humane justice that leads to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. May we seek the good of all over the advancement of the individual. May we seek to both forgive and to be forgiven.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God; therefore, we pray and work for the true peace that comes from God. We pray in your name, God who is sovereign over all the governments of the world. Amen.Praying for Kings Click To Tweet
This week, I published my first book:
Prayers for the People: Scripturally Based Prayers for Worship
I hope you consider checking it out!