Usually after a couple of snide comments about Washington, D.C., and the state of the nation, people say to me, “I could never work with the people you work with; they would drive me crazy.” I typically just smile and ask, “Would you join me in praying for them? They are my mission field.”
As a U.S. senator who loves God and is grateful for His work in our nation, I know when we pray, God changes our attitude and their lives.
Two-thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to lead a group of churches. Paul followed up later with a letter that included this statement: “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
At the time Paul wrote this letter, he was in jail for his faith. In fact, he had been imprisoned multiple times before by different government leaders. Beaten, stoned and belittled for his faith by those in authority. Yet when he writes to Timothy, he reminds him to pray for all those in authority. This was not a theory for Paul; it was a personal life practice and a clear command for the church. We miss out on God’s best for our lives and the lives of our leaders when we fail to pray, even for government leaders we may or may not agree with.
The Scripture is full of examples and admonitions to pray for leaders. Instead of just telling you about those Biblical passages, why don’t we petition the Maker of Heaven and Earth in prayer together, right now? Will you join me?
“Almighty God, I know Your plans stand forever and Your purposes through all generations. You have a purpose that You are accomplishing in my life and in the life of our nation that is bigger than what I can imagine. Thank You.
“Father, You told us to pray for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we can lead quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. We know You want everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, so I pray right now for the leaders in our local, state and national governments. I pray they would have ears to hear Your truth and hearts to receive Your love. Put people around them to boldly share Your love and forgiveness.
“Help me to honor and submit—even when I don’t feel like it—because You said, ‘There is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God’ (Romans 13:1). So help me respect the authority you have established and to say and do what is right and honorable in Your sight. Our culture celebrates those who belittle people in authority. Help me to honor You as I honor them. I want to live as a free person but not to use my freedom as a cover-up for doing what really is evil.
“I pray the leaders You have placed in authority would have Your wisdom and commitment to ‘punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right’ (1 Peter 2:14, NIV). I even choose to pray for those in authority who persecute me for my faith. Help me see them as You see them and trust in Your justice, knowing Your Kingdom is bigger than any kingdom of this world.
“Lord, raise up righteous and diligent judges, lawmakers and leaders because our nation needs justice and examples of faith in our public square. Help our leaders speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves—for the rights of all who are destitute—and to judge fairly and defend the rights of the poor and needy. Help them treat everyone created in Your image equally with the same measurement regardless of race, wealth, position or background.
“Lord, meet their needs and the needs of their families. Bless their marriages. Guard the hearts of their children, and give them safety in their homes and travels. They are people, just like me, and they need Your help daily. Help them to look to You for all their many needs. Bless their staff and advisors with supernatural insight to solve the challenges of our nation with Your wisdom.
“Lord, our nation does not honor You or walk in Your truth. I confess the sins we, including me, have committed against You. We have not obeyed the commands You gave us. But You said that even if we ended up at the farthest horizon away from You, You would bring us back if we would turn to You. Forgive me and our nation, Lord. Redeem our nation by Your great strength and Your mighty hand.
“You are truly the King and Lord of all, slow to anger and abounding in love; faithful, even when we are faithless. I put our leaders in Your hands. Guide them as only You can.
“Amen!” ©2020 James P. Lankford
U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) has served his state in the Senate since 2015. Before that, he was twice elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who has served in denominational posts and in numerous interim pastorates.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, ©1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.