As America commemorates the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library today, the world’s most exclusive club of living former presidents are joined by President Barack Obama in Dallas.
In his speech, Obama said despite every intention to prepare for the office of the presidency, the former presidents serve as a support group for one of the most difficult responsibilities to be placed on a person’s shoulders.
Like clockwork each November, elections are held and leaders are selected by their constituents. From the president on down, you might ask, ‘Why pray for our elected leaders? I didn’t vote for half of them!’
A better question than “Why pray” might be rephrased as “How can I pray for the president and others, despite political differences?”
The Bible offers sound direction on why every Christian should pray for the president, the Congress on down to your state and local officials. The Apostle Paul was steadfast when he urged “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone,“ in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, including “kings and all those in authority, that we may live peacefully and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
By offering prayer for our president and others, we are working to establish a peaceful and more holy nation; I can’t think of any Christian who wouldn’t want that!
Why Pray for the President, Other Leaders?
The Bible also talks about the importance of showing respect for our leaders and their need for our prayers.
Vowing to kill David after becoming jealous of his relationship with Jonathan, Saul’s life was spared twice by David, as he respected Saul’s position of leadership (1 Samuel 24:5-6, 1 Samuel 26:9). As David later became king over all of Israel in 1 Chronicles 10, his men buried Saul and his sons in their home of Jabesh, giving proper burial to their former leader.
Romans 13:1 directs “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”
The author of Hebrews encouraged Christians on the behalf of leaders then and now to “[p]ray for us, for our conscience to be clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do,” (13:18-19 NLT).
What to Pray for Our Leaders
When praying for our leaders, consider what the Bible offers as the marks of a good leader:
- Obedience (Exodus 6:9-12)
- Accountability (1 Chronicles 21:8)
- Courage (Nehemiah 6:10-13)
- Willingness to Serve (Matthew 20:26-27)
- Seeks Out Good Advisers (Proverbs 11:14)
By praying that our leaders are obedient to God’s will for our nation, accountable for his actions, courageous in times of pressure at home and abroad, willing to serve for the good of their constituents, and one who seeks out good advisers, we can help influence our leaders to make solid, informed and Godly decisions.
Regardless of politics, we should choose to show love for our leaders as children of God and practice intercession, whether our views are in conflict or accord with those for whom we are praying.
By choosing to pray for all leaders, we put into motion the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and can make a positive, God-directed difference in our communities and country today:
“[I]f my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”