“First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him. Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NCV).
The Apostle Paul tells us that we should pray for all people. This also means for those who rule our country. When we look at politics and the people who are in power and those who want to be in power, it can look like a hopeless task. Will it even help to pray for leaders who may be godless and proud, leaders who are not even willing to listen to God? How will it help to pray and what should we then pray for? What is the real purpose of praying as this verse tells us to do?
Paul knew that God listens to the prayers of God-fearing and righteous people. James writes about Elijah: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” James 5:16-18 (NLT).
God-fearing people should not just do nothing and accept whatever may come. We must earnestly pray for our leaders and for our country! It does not matter what type of person the leader is. We read in Proverbs 21:1 (NCV): “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases.”
God looks over the whole earth to find those who have given themselves completely to Him so that He can help them. (2 Chronicles 16:9.) James says: “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2. Paul tells the churches to pray for those in authority so that God could give them wisdom to lead the country in such a way that we can serve Him in peace. We must stand for what is right in an ungodly world; if we don’t pray for the government and for what is right, who will?
We know that God is all powerful and can do whatever He wants to do. But we shouldn’t just do nothing and accept everything because of that. There are examples in the Bible where God changed His plans because of people who prayed. He decided to destroy Israel after they sinned by making a golden calf to worship, but then Moses pleaded with God and prayed for Israel, and God listened to Moses and spared the nation. (Exodus 32:11-14.)
Therefore, we should do what Paul has written and pray for our leaders and ask God to guide their ways. We can ask God to steer matters so that we can “have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God”. For example, we can pray that no laws and decisions are made by the government that would stop us from coming together as Christians or would make it very difficult to live as Christians. We can ask God to protect our country also for the sake of our families and other loved ones.
We can be sure that God listens closely to our prayers, and that He steers all things in our country.