“Dear Lord, we pray for the Emperor Domitian and his court…” How do we imagine 1st century Christians finishing that prayer? Would they have prayed for freedom? Would they have prayed for victory over these evil forces? Would they have prayed for the protection of their rights? Would they have prayed for power and influence?
There is a passage that tells us to pray. So we do. We often pray that God will help us win! We pray that God will lead leaders to be more like us. We pray that God will use the powers that be to Christianize our culture. But I think there is a grander plan expressed in the admonition to pray. Let’s look at this oft-quoted passage.
1First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Why Pray for leaders? THAT we might lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. Now, doesn’t that blow most of our Facebook and Twitter posts out of the water? The passage doesn’t tell us to pray for the success of our political battles, or the bending of wills toward our solutions. We’re called to pray, so we can live peacefully, quietly, godly and with dignity in every way! God’s desire is for leaders to provide a society where we can live out our new life in Christ. This goal confronts the church that tries to conquer and control culture.
Why is this kind of life so important? Because God has a mission. He has a desire. He has a plan. God desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth! How will those God loves come to salvation? How will those God loves come to a knowledge of the truth? They will see it, hear it, and experience it through our peacefulness, our quietness, our godliness and our dignity. They will see a people who are qualitatively different from the world they live in.
So what should we pray, if not to pray for winning the culture and politics wars?
- Pray that our leaders will understand their accountability to the God of heaven.
- Pray for the health of their souls through repentance, faith and faithfulness.
- Pray that God will use leaders to provide an atmosphere where the church can live lives of humble, sacrificial, and generous obedience.
- Pray for our own understanding that nations are temporary and are appointed for seasons to move the gospel forward in the world.
- Pray that leaders and members of the body of Christ will be so distinct from the world that people will see a difference and be drawn to the Savior who loves them.
So, there is something better than winning: To have an atmosphere wherein we can live a transformed life, pointing others to the Savior who so wants to be known by them.
What do we need from our leaders, so we can live this quality of life? Over time, what would you say is the potential impact of us living differently?
As always, thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. And most of all, thanks for praying!