Praying for the President
January 31, 2012 by Pastor Jeremiah
Once again, the tedious process of nominating a Republican candidate to run for president dominated today’s headlines. The emphasis was upon how the campaign ads were becoming fiercer and could possibly be the “most negative” of all time. And these guys are supposed to be on the same team? I cringe at the thought of what the general election process will devolve into. It makes me wonder, “How are we supposed to hold our leaders in high regard, as the scriptures admonish us to, if they are constantly tearing each other down - bringing out the worst in each other?”
To make matters worse a new slogan has become popular on social networking sites and bumper stickers in recent months. It simply reads: “Pray for Obama, Psalm 109:8.” It seems innocent enough until you actually read the passage. “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to take his place.” I guess we could all have a good laugh at the thought of another Biblical passage being hijacked out of context, but that wasn’t my reaction. It made me angry. Essentially the slogan is calling on Christians to leverage the words of God to pray for something God is expressly against. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you have to agree with Obama and support what he supports. However, as believers, who take the Bible seriously, we should consider carefully how we are instructed to respond to leadership so that we don’t fall into the patterns of this world.
Pray for your leaders
The scriptures clearly teach us to pray for our leaders. 1 Timothy 2 says it most clearly, “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.” Notice that the desired result of these prayers is that we would live peaceful and quiet lives. How many of us live in anxiety and fear because of political issues? How many of us resent our leaders? How many of us incite each other to fury over policies we passionately oppose? Are we living in peace? The Christians living under the leadership of Rome at this time didn’t picket the emperor. Their only recourse was to pray for him.
Submit to your leaders
Romans 13 “Let everyone be subject 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, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
We might be tempted to think that doesn’t apply when the president, or governor is not our preferred choice for the job, but Paul is writing this at a time when there was no choice. To make matters worse, Paul wrote this portion of scripture at a time when Nero was emperor of Rome. In addition to burning Christians alive like human candles, he’s the guy who fed them to wild animals in the Coliseums. All of the sudden, ObamaCare doesn’t seem so bad!
You might be tempted to minimize what it means to be subject to your leaders. It’s not too difficult a thing to abide by the rules, or refuse to join a populous uprising. However, the writer of Hebrews adds to what Paul says in Romans by calling believers to place their confidence in leaders. Hebrews 13, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.“ Imagine what the president could accomplish if he felt like the people in our nation were actually behind him placing their confidence in him as God’s appointed leader. It goes both ways – whether the president is Clinton, Bush, Obama, Romney, or Gingrich. What if Christians everywhere were known as those who respected and supported their leaders no matter what? Something tells me this would be good and it would please God our Savior!