“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. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:1-6
On this National Day of Prayer, we’re reminded by these verses to pray for our governmental leaders – all of them, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, and whether or not they agree with our policy preferences. Romans 13:1 would add that all authority has been established by God. Today and every day, we should be praying that our leaders will make wise decisions and that their hearts will be turned toward the One who has placed them in office.
Part of the reason we pray this way is so that we can maintain a cultural atmosphere that makes it easier for us to carry out our lives in a Christ-honoring way and carry out our mission with integrity and conviction. However, we should be quick to understand that our Christian life and mission is not dependent on this atmosphere. While Paul desired it and prayed for it, the early church didn’t always have it. In fact, the early church often advanced most under persecution. We can look at the Church today in places like China and Vietnam and see that it often flourishes most when it is out of favor with government. Yet we do not invite disfavor or persecution; we pray for quite the opposite.
All the while, we keep our prayerful focus on the mission of the Church and the One who is Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ. Our primary mission and means of influencing change in this world is not political but spiritual; we grow His Kingdom not through legislation but evangelization. By all means, we should vote according to our biblical values. We should support legislation that promotes biblical morality and religious liberty and oppose that which does not. We should stand for racial justice and the sanctity of life. But still the primary way we exercise influence in these areas is to faithfully and boldly proclaim the gospel. As you pray today, ask the Lord to infuse us with courage to live out our faith and proclaim the gospel even though we are doing so against the grain of culture.
Finally, remember who alone is the only answer; who alone is our only hope; who alone is to be the only focus of our loyalty and allegiance. It is Jesus! He alone gave His life for all people. He alone is the mediator who can reconcile people to God and to one another. He alone changes lives. Ultimately, He alone will set all things in order as they come under His authority and control. We must not divide our allegiance between Jesus and anyone else. As we pray for our nation today, more than anything, America needs Jesus. Our primary duty is to permeate our communities with His love and His message of hope.