Praying for our Government

May 13, 2011 at 8:35 am Leave a comment


Today begins Concordia’s Thirty Hour Famine for our youth.  During this special period of fasting, Concordia’s youth will devote themselves to prayer, as is the norm in Scripture: “I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting” (Daniel 9:3).  Among the items for which we are urging our youth to pray is our government.  In our politically divisive and derisive climate, it is important to remind ourselves what the Scriptures say about how Christians should relate to their government.  Thus, I have prepared a short synopsis of what the Scriptures say concerning governmental authorities which will be used as part of the Thirty Hour Famine.  Though simple, I thought I would publish it on my blog as a reminder of how we should appropriately engage in the political process.  I hope it’s a blessing to you!

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  (Romans 13:1-2)

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  (1 Peter 2:13-14)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – 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)

These passages from Scripture remind us of the importance of honoring our governmental authorities.   From these passages we learn:

  • God’s authority stands behind government’s authority.  God Himself has established all political authorities.
  • Because God’s authority is behind government’s authority, we ought to submit to our government as long as its policies do not conflict with God’s Word (cf. Acts 5:29).
  • Not only should we passively submit to the government’s authority, we should actively pray for our officials.  They deserve our prayers and honor.

Clearly, many people do not obey the Bible’s guidance when it comes to governmental authority.  Rather than respecting and praying for our governmental officials, many people mock and ridicule them and, in some extreme instances, even threaten them.  Yet, when all of these biblical admonitions to respect the governing authorities were written, the person in power was the Roman emperor Nero.  Nero hated Christians.  Some traditions hold that it was Nero who was at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of Peter and Paul, the authors of the above biblical quotes.  When a fire destroyed Rome in AD 64, Nero blamed the Christians for the city’s destruction and launched a fierce campaign of persecution against them.  The first century Roman historian Tacitus writes of Nero’s persecution:  “Covered with the skins of beasts, the Christians were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44).  In spite of all of this, the biblical authors still urged Christians to respect the governing authorities.

Whether or not we agree with the policies and politics of our elected officials, we should still respect our governing authorities and pray for them.  We should especially pray for them when they do things out of step with God’s Word.  We should pray that they would repent and listen to God’s voice.  We should also pray that God’s will be done, even if it is done through imperfect politicians.

Finally, we must remember that no matter who is in power, government will not and cannot solve all of this world’s problems.  Many people seem to believe that if one or another political party would only gain power in Congress and the White House, then all of our problems would be solved.  Though governmental officials can do many things, they cannot save the world.  Only Jesus can do that.  This is why, while respecting our governmental authorities, we do not put our ultimate trust in them.  We put our ultimate trust in Christ alone.

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