It has been a week since President Obama won re-election. There are many people for whom his re-election is a disappointment, even a discouragement. It is particularly so for those who believe that the primary focus of government should be moral, not economic or social (see Romans 13). To these people, which includes myself, I offer these thoughts from Pastor Nate Busenitz, who taught on the following passage a couple of Sundays ago at Grace Community Church.
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . . (1 Timothy 2:1-5)
We as Christians are instructed to pray for our political leaders, even when we disagree. (Arguably particularly when we disagree.) First of all, the act of prayer itself reminds us that God is sovereign. He is in control of the happenings on earth. Nothing occurs without His knowledge or permission; people in positions of power cannot do anything without the approval of God. “There is one God,” Paul writes, which demonstrates His ultimate authority and power. When we pray to God, it reminds us that we supplicate God because He is sovereign and He alone has the power to grant our requests.
God is also good. We are to have faith in God’s good plan, even though our leaders pass laws and take stances with which we do not agree, because God is infinitely wise and infinitely powerful and infinitely good. All that happens will ultimately work to His plan, which is good and will doubtlessly glorify Him. His sovereignty and good plan will not be thwarted or derailed by the election of a political leader who opposes aspects of the will of God. We are subject to our leaders, but our leaders are subject to God.
So we pray for our leaders in part because it does good for us. It reminds us of the sovereignty of God and the goodness and inevitability of His plan. But it also keeps us “peaceful and quiet,” “godly and dignified,” because prayer helps us to love our political leaders. It is too easy for our dissent and disagreement to grow into anger. Praying for our leaders gives us love for them. When we pray for them, we see that they are sinners like us, in need of grace, not villains to be demonized. Prayer centers us on God and fosters in us a love for our leaders.
Lastly, Paul instructs us to pray for our leaders’ salvation. Our God is one who “desires all people to be saved,” and this includes our political leaders. Certainly, we know that everything they do is a part of the will of God, but how much better might it be if their actions were in line with God’s active will, not just His passive will? What if the things they did were commanded by God, not merely allowed? But our reasoning is more than simple utility. We don’t pray for them simply because it will be good for the nation, we pray for them because it will be good for their soul. We are instructed to care for their soul, and the best way to do this is to pray for their salvation.
Whether you voted for Obama or not, whether you voted or not, pray for him. Pray for your senators and representatives and governors. Pray for their salvation. Be reminded of God’s sovereignty. He alone rules the world; He alone grants salvation. We do nothing apart from His sovereignty and good plan. Pray for our political leaders because you want to love them, and pray for them because it is “pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” When we serve our leaders in this way, we serve our God.
(One article I would recommend for the political reader is the blog post “Aftermath” by Al Mohler, which discusses various aspects of the election from a conservative, Christian viewpoint. // HT: Challies)