Praying for Leaders

Hello Everyone!

Last fall, as our country was gearing up for the presidential election, I wrote a rough draft of this article.  I ended up not publishing it, mostly because I was seeing so many other bloggers writing in some way about the election.  I personally felt saturated politically and didn’t want to read one more article referring to it, even if it was my own.

So why send this out now?  I really thought (and hoped) that all the political hub-bub would have blown over by now.  Unless you are living on a deserted island with no cell phone coverage, you know that conflicts are still raging and likely escalating.  As the evening news airs each evening and our country’s latest governmental battles are examined in detail, I find myself feeling frustrated and helpless.  Will there ever be even a semblance of peace again?

My knee jerk reaction is to start looking for that deserted island.  I don’t want to hear anything anymore from either side.  Unlike many people, I’ve never enjoyed debates.  I don’t see them as entertaining contests, but as polarizing arguments.  I want to literally plug my ears and pretend our world is a happy place.

The amazing reality is that I’m not as helpless as I feel when it comes to affecting my governmental powers.  When I read the Bible, I find that I should be personally involved, rather than pretending my leaders don’t exist.  Now, if that last statement has you grabbing your sign to rally for your favorite side of a cause, I’m afraid you may be looking in your Bible for a long time to find supporting verses.  What we are told is to pray for our leaders.  They need our prayers, even when they don’t know it (in fact, maybe especially then!) and they need us to keep praying!  By the way, this includes, not just those in the volatile United States of America, but any of you from other countries who have leaders.  I think that includes all of us!

Reasons we should pray for our leaders, even when we don’t feel like it:

1) – We are to pray for all people. We are to pray for our fellow believers. Got that. We are to pray that our loved ones are saved or are restored. Got that. We are to pray for our enemies. Hmmm. We are to pray for the king. Hmmm.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2) – We are not only to pray for our leaders, but be thankful for them. Hmmm.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

3) – Our leaders, as bad as we may think they are, stand in God’s place. I believe this is similar to the mandate that children are to obey their parents. Children are not told to decide if their parents are God-like and then obey if they are. God has made certain hierarchies of authority and we are to respect and obey that position, as long as obeying them doesn’t keep us from obeying God. When we do honor them, we honor God in return.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Titus 3:1,2 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

4) God put our leaders where they are. This is a hard one for many Christians to accept. My questions are:  Is God in the minority when people vote in an ungodly ruler? Could God be doing something at this moment differently if some other ruler had been voted for? Is God powerful, except in the voting process?

Daniel 2:20-22 – Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

5) – We were put in this country to pray for it. This country is just a temporary stop in our eternal lives. We could have been placed anywhere by God, but He put us here. Instead of entangling ourselves in the earthly affairs of our stop-over, we are to pray for our country and those who are leading it.

Jeremiah 29:7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

6) – Finally, we are to pray for our leaders because they could repent and be saved. When you think of your governmental leaders, do you think there is any chance that they could get saved? Are those in your country’s leadership any farther away from God than I was before I was born-again? Can God save someone in our church, but can’t save our president? Is there anything that is impossible for God? Just think for a minute with me…can you imagine what would take place if our leaders repented and turned to God with all their hearts? I’m pretty sure there would be a huge attempt at covering it up because things would have to change. I think the best Washington DC psychologists would be called in because certainly some sort of mental illness must be responsible for such a radical change. Isn’t that what was implied with Paul (Acts 26:24)?

Jonah 3:5-7 – And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water….”

May God give us all a renewed urgency to pray for our leaders – ALL of them, no matter what political party they originate in. May He guide each person in authority, whether they know it or not and may He work His ultimate purposes through them, even if His purposes are to bring us into the last days. Last, but not least, may God show His ultimate power by enlightening their eyes to His truths and even, in His will, saving some to our amazement!

Today no matter if your country is run by President Trump of the U.S., King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister May of Great Britain, Chairman Xi Jinping of China, or some other leader – pray for them.  You say that they are corrupt and ungodly?  Pray all the more!

 

Quick ‘Wasteful Living’ update:  We went through the pile of things we knew we had to donate and separated the items seasonally  Then I added a few more items from my closet and our son put in a bag of items from his closet  Although I’m sure I could have selected more things to bless others with, we ended up with a fair share to take to our local distribution center.  Sometimes it’s better to just take what you have rather than just waiting to see if there are more goods to add to the pile.

When You Can’t Ask For Prayer

We were racing down the runway towards liftoff, but something wasn’t quite right.  I don’t know much about planes, but I’d never felt shaking like this on any other flight I’d been on.  It felt more like I was in a truck speeding down a pot-holed dirt road than in a modern jet on a smooth runway.  I found myself clutching the arm rests with my sweaty hands while I desperately tried to see past the plane wing that was blocking my view of the ground.  What was going on?  To my relief, we finally left both the ground and the shaking behind. I continued to hold my breath as we banked into a turn, but when we leveled off and seemed no worse for the vibrations, I started to ease into normal breathing and loosened my grip.  My respite was short-lived.  The pilot’s voice came over the PA system.  He acknowledged that the sensation we’d all felt was due to a malfunction.  The tread on one of the plane’s tires had been lost.  We would continue on to our intended destination where emergency crews would be waiting to assist our landing and the process of getting to our gate.

So many thoughts were going through my mind.  Shouldn’t we turn around?  I nixed that idea, as it would still involve landing on our problematic tire.  What would happen when we landed?  Would the pilot lose control and careen off the runway?  Would the friction cause a fire?  Maybe the plane would flip over.  I quickly counted the rows to the nearest exit and squeezed the hand of my son, who was sitting next to me.

The strange thing is that no one else around me seemed to have any concern.  There were no cries, no whispers. I couldn’t even identify a panicked glance.  Everyone continued on like it was a normal flight.  The attendants served drinks.  People watched movies.  Others read books.  Was I the only one that was worried?

I realized that my fears were not productive.  Each dire possibility that entered my mind just fueled my anxiety.  I couldn’t do anything anyway.  Or could I?  I decided that it would be more constructive to use my energy to pray.  I prayed that God would protect us.  I reminded myself that He had complete control over everything that was happening.  I didn’t claim to know His purposes, but I knew whatever way this story ended, His will was perfect.    I can’t say I prayed once and then left it with God.  I prayed, prayed again, and prayed some more.  Every time the fears would well up in my mind, I’d pray again.

I so wanted to call my parents to ask them to pray for us.  They’ve been such faithful prayer partners for years.  They’ve prayed for me in so many different instances and I knew they wouldn’t hesitate to pray intensely at this time.  I reasoned that, although I couldn’t call my dad and mom while in the air, maybe I could send off a quick email alert.  I’ve never tried to email anyone while I was flying.  I tried to figure out how to connect to wifi, but had no success.  I asked my son about using data, but he was sure it wouldn’t work.  I tried anyway.  It didn’t work.  I was so frustrated.  I needed people to pray, but there was no way to ask for them to do it.

What about you?  Have you had a situation that you desperately felt needed collective prayer, but were unable to ask for it?  Maybe, like me, you were some place that prevented contact with those who could have prayed for you.  Maybe you even now have a situation that is too personal to tell anyone about.  Whatever the reason for it, I think most of us have times when we feel very alone in our situation.

I’ve been thinking about Hannah in 1 Samuel.  There we read of at least two others that knew her deepest desire – to have a child.  The first was her husband, Elkanah.  He may have been praying that the Lord would open his wife’s womb, but we are not specifically told this.  He did go yearly to worship and offer sacrifices, but we don’t know if these actions were accompanied by prayer for his wife.  He seemed resigned to her plight.  The other person in the ‘know’ was Peninnah, Elkanah’s other wife.  It is doubtful that Hannah found a prayer partner in her, since this ‘other woman’ seemed intent on taunting her. The surprising thing is that Hannah didn’t even seem to ask the priest to pray for her when she went to the tabernacle to pray.  If she had, Eli wouldn’t have mistaken her silent prayers for drunkenness.  I think both Hannah’s lack of reliance on the priest and his reaction to her showed just how far the priests were at this time from fulfilling their God-given role of intercessor.

When we encounter a need in our life that we are not able to share around the prayer circles, what are we to do?  Do we despair because we are in this on our own?  I think the key is understanding we aren’t alone.  Over and over again in the Bible, God reminded people that they weren’t facing circumstances by themselves.  Do you think that these verses have an asterisk  that sets you apart from this promise?

Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.  Isaiah 49:10

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.  Joshua 1:9

Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.  Psalm 34:4

 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask others to pray for us and with us when we’re able to do this.  I strongly believe that God has allowed people to intervene on my behalf through prayer.  I’m sure that only Heaven will reveal the many times people have prayed and God has hearkened to their cry.  But I also don’t think that God is impotent in His own strength.  He doesn’t coldly wait to react only if a certain number of prayers reach Him.  He loves us and He is all powerful to orchestrate any plan that is in His will – all…by…Himself.

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  Psalm 59:1

 

Dear friend, if you are in a place today where your burdens feel like they are borne by you alone, look up!  God knows all about your circumstances, even if no one else does.    He will carry your burdens for you, if you’ll only let Him.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22