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. 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. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NASB
The United States of America is at a critical time in our nation's history. It seems like we are repeating a precarious cycle from 50 years ago. In the 1960's we experienced the Generation Gap, Economic Division, Racial Strife, Hate Crimes, Free Sex Movement, Assassinations of Leaders, Drug Epidemic and much more. Prayer was removed from public schools, abortion was made legally available, an assault was released against traditional family values and roles, a no-fault divorce clause was introduced, and on and on it goes. This started unraveling American society as we had known it.
While the current tumultuous cultural climate is very similar to the 1960's, it is perhaps even more precariously heightened. Today we have Supreme Court sanctioned gay marriage, open doors to an escalating gender confusion, Presidential Executive Orders that go outside of Constitutional rights, the legalization of drugs in specific states, violent radical Islamic jihadist attacks, trillions of dollars of national debt, and more. Much of the current mood in the U.S. is one of anger, frustration and extreme polarization.
The Scriptures State, "I Urge You to Pray!"
Praying for people in positions of authority is a high priority in the heart of God. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 we are given an apostolic admonition for these prayers.
When South African pastor and prolific author Andrew Murray read this passage, he wrote in response:
"What a faith in the power of prayer! A few feeble and despised Christians are to influence the mighty Roman emperors, and help in securing peace and quietness. Let us believe that prayer is a power that is taken up by God in His rule of the world. Let us pray for our country and its rulers, for all the rulers of the world, for rulers in cities or districts in which we are interested. When God's people unite in this, they may count upon their prayers effecting in the unseen world more than they know. Let faith hold this fast."(Andrew Murray, Helps to Intercession (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 2007), Day 17.)
Andrew Murray laid hold of the fact that earthly authority cannot be exercised within the will of God without the steady application of prayer on the part of the people of God.
Jack W. Hayford, respected founding pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, comments:
"You and I can help decide [whether]...blessing or cursing...happens on earth. We will determine whether God's goodness is released toward specific situations or whether the power of sin and Satan is permitted to prevail. Prayer is the determining factor." (Jack W. Hayford, Prayer is Invading the Impossible (New York: Ballantine Books, 1983), 57.)
Yes, the prayers that Christians pray for those in authority matter; they are essential to the advancement of the Kingdom. We cannot afford to leave them up to others. Prayer for leaders must become one of the core values of our lives as intercessors.
Additional Biblical Precedent
Many other Scriptures help us understand how to pray for people who are in positions of authority. Let's look at a few of them:
Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17, NKJV)
Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring? (Proverbs 24:21-22, NIV)
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan. (Proverbs 29:2, NKJV)
Why should we pray for those who are in authority? In my formative years, I often heard international Bible teacher, Derek Prince, instruct his audience with great precision. The following are some of the concepts I remember him teaching.
"If you bypass prayer, you can have all sorts of plans, systems, and programs, but you do not have the power to operate them. It is like having a building wired for electricity, but not connected to the generator. Nothing is going to work. The wires may be in good order and the light fixtures may be wonderful, but you are not going to get results because there is no power! The power-house of the Christian Church is prayer, and Paul very logically says, 'First of all prayer!'"
Prayer is therefore the priority. Consider these three summations:
• Who do you pray for?
For men, kings and all those in authority.
• What is the topic?
Pray for good government to be established in our nations.
• What is the purpose?
So that we may live in a peaceful and orderly society, so that there will be an unhindered propagation of the Gospel. God desires all men to be saved. So simple and logical, and yet so over looked!
Very early in colonial America, in 1638, a pastor named Thomas Hooker preached a sermon in Hartford, Connecticut based on this passage. His sermon inspired the creation of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first written constitution in Western history which created a government from which the government of the United States can trace its lineal descent.
In his sermon, Hooker "forcefully asserted that the choice of public magistrates belongs to the people, that the privilege of election belongs to the people, and that those who have the power to appoint officers of government have the right to limit the power they hold." (Bruce P. Stark, "Thomas Hooker," on the Web site Connecticut's Heritage Gateway) Thomas Hooker's sermon concluded with the words, "As God hath spared our lives, and given us them in liberty, so to seek the guidance of God, and to choose in God and for God." (Alden T. Vaughan, The Puritan Tradition in America, 1620-1730 (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1997), 84.)
In general, Biblical principles had a strong influence on those who established the United States of America. Later, Daniel Webster (1782–1852) wrote:
"If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering...but if we neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all of our glory in profound obscurity."
In other words, when you pray for people in authority who are selected by others, you may decide to pray first for those who are doing the voting or selecting. Pray that they—including yourself—will abide by Biblical principles, will have discernment and wisdom and integrity, and will be blessed by God in the execution of the tasks that lead up to the selection of new leaders.
Let's Add Feet to Our Prayers!
Also, our participation in the voting process is an adjunct to our prayers in a very real way. Voting can be our "works" that are supposed to match our faith. The Book of James tells us that faith without works is dead. "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead," (James 2:17, NKJV). Praying is vital, but it can't stand-alone. You must add feet to your prayers. Don't be sideliner! Take a stand! Add works to your prayers of faith!
While we all have special prayer assignments, we are also called to be "general practitioners" of intercession, and part of our prayer emphasis needs to be directed toward those in authority. It is God's heart! It is God's Word! It is God's command!
So why don't we just stop for a minute and tune in to God's heart, praying for leaders and issues that concern them?
Father, in accordance with Your Word we pause and pray for kings and for those in authority. We pray that You will raise up godly counsel around our leader's lives and that the input that is based on an unbiblical framework will be silenced. We ask You to provide wisdom like that of Solomon, as well as purity, protection, and safety. We release the knowledge of God's will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Lord, as the United States and other nations go into critical times of elections, we call forth those who are truly appointed by You. Raise up righteous men and women who are humble, wise and have revelatory activity upon their lives—release them into positions of influence to impact those in authority. We pray that there would be a true reliance upon the Word of God, the will of God, and the ways of God as the source of daily strength, wisdom and courage. We pray that there would be a restoration of dignity and honor, trustworthiness and righteousness in the land.
We bless those in authority this day and we declare that this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior who desires all men and women to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We thank You in Jesus' great name. Amen.
Dr. James W. Goll is the President of Encounters Network, the International Director of Prayer Storm, and the Founder of God Encounters Training – an eSchool of the Heart. With great joy James has shared Jesus in more than 50 nations, teaching and imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry, and life in the Spirit. James is the prolific author of numerous books, including The Seer, The Lost Art of Intercession, The Coming Israel Awakening, Deliverance from Darkness, A Radical Faith, and many others. He has also produced multiple study guides and hundreds of audio and video messages (click here for more).
James and Michal Ann were married for 32 years before her graduation to Heaven in the fall of 2008. James has four adult children who are married and all love Jesus: Justin, GraceAnn, Tyler, and Rachel, and multiple grandchildren. James continues to make his home in Franklin, Tennessee.
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James Goll's Itinerary:
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July 22-24, 2016
East Coast Awakening Summit
Awakening House of Prayer
56 South Federal Highway, Dania Beach, FL 33004
July 28, 2016 (2pm EDT)
God Encounters Today Webinar
With James W. Goll hosted by Dr. Joseph Peck
Registration available soon