As Christians, we are commanded in the Scriptures to pray for our leaders.
"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity," the Apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:1-3. "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Whether we agree with them or not -- whether we like them are not -- we are to pray for wisdom and discernment so our leaders can distinguish truth from error, fact from fiction. We are to pray for patience and for courage for our leaders, so they don't act rashly, but that they act with determination when the time is right. We are to pray that they govern well, protecting life and liberty, above all. We should also pray that they turn to the God of the Bible in prayer, as well, to receive "wisdom from above" and not earthly wisdom (see James chapter three).
How are you praying this week? Are you praying faithfully for President Obama and his national security and foreign policy team? Are you praying for leaders in Congress, and in our military? Or are you sniping at them?
Weighty decisions lie before our leaders. When it comes to the situation in Syria (and Iran, and Egypt, and elsewhere in the epicenter), the fate of many lies in the balance. With more than 100,000 dead, we are looking at the potential of genocide underway. On top of that, now we see reports that perhaps chemical weapons may have been used to murder men, women and children with poison gas. The situation is complicated. There are competing interests at stake and high stakes. The Assad regime is evil. But so are the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood rebels fighting against them. What is the best path forward? How should our leaders proceed?
I am encouraged to see many people telling me they are praying seriously and faithfully.
Yet in tracking my email and Facebook and Twitter traffic, I see many people sniping at our leaders, taking potshots at them, and making snarky, cynical, unkind, un-Christian statements.
Is that you? Hopefully not. But if it is, make a change. Ask the Lord to forgive you for disobeying him and having an ungodly approach towards your government leaders. He will forgive you (see I John 1:9).
Start praying daily -- indeed, several times a day -- for your leaders, according to the Scriptures. Our God is a prayer-hearing, and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God. Let's look to Him and trust Him more, especially in such dark times.
- "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." (Psalm 122:6)
- "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
- "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
- "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
- "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).
- "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26).
- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
- "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3)
- "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:5-8).
- "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted"'" (Luke 18:9-14).
- "'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins'" (Mark 11:22-25).
- "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:13-14).