How Should We Pray for the Election?
First of all, then, 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 (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
At no time is this command more applicable than now. As another presidential election draws near we must not neglect prayer. We pray for our leaders, not because it is one of the most patriotic things to do for our country (yes it is!), but because God commands us to. Prayer for our leaders is an exercise in submission to those in authority as well as trust in God’s sovereign rule in the affairs of men. How, then, should we pray about the upcoming election? Let me offer seven suggestions.
1. Give thanks to God for the benefits of living in a free and prosperous country (1 Tim. 2:1). Did you notice that the offering of “thanksgivings” is included among entreaties, prayers, and petitions? Because we tend to focus on the negative, fret over the future, and complain about what’s wrong with the world, we neglect thankfulness, and this to our own hurt. I wonder how often we look like petty, ungrateful children to God when we pray for our leaders with bitterness and grumbling in our hearts. Do not forget the blessings of God—they are not guaranteed to last a lifetime.
2. Pray for the ability to live peaceful and godly lives (1 Tim. 2:2). We often pray for the preservation of our freedoms, but sometimes overlook the purpose for which those freedoms may be given. We are to pray for peace to live “in all godliness and dignity.” To put it more frankly, we must not live tranquil lives merely for comfort and freedom’s sake; instead, we use our freedoms to serve God with even more fervor and boldness. Today, we enjoy this freedom to a great degree. Consider all the Christians in Bible times (or alive today) whose lives were not peaceful; if they lived faithful lives in those circumstances, how much more ought we to serve God with diligence and confidence?
3. Ask God to use us to spread the gospel with our freedoms (1 Tim. 2:3-7). We enjoy almost unprecedented ability to move, speak, and act freely within this country. How are we using these freedoms to execute God’s desire that “all men be saved” through the “one mediator,” Jesus Christ? While we are hammered with political debates, campaign slogans, and presidential promises we must remember that the only real hope to make life better is found in the gospel.
4. Pray for humility to submit to our leaders (both present and future) without complaint (1 Pet. 2:13-17; Tit. 3:1). God commands us to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14), yet we conveniently forget that when it comes to politics. We tell ourselves our reasons for discontent with the government are wholesome and even religious enough to justify voicing our resentment. Perhaps we do have good reason to be unhappy with what it supports, but the more important question is this: How are we conveying the kind of honor and respect we are commanded to give our leaders (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17)?
5. Pray for discernment to know when we should obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Things may reach a point when we are forced to choose between obeying an earthly ordinance and obeying the King of kings. Before that happens, though, we cannot use this as an excuse for not obeying the authorities. Should we ever be told to stop preaching, worshipping, reading the Bible, or upholding God’s standard of morality I hope we would have the guts of the apostles to say, “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-21).
6. Pray that the election would result in our government rewarding good and punishing evil (Rom. 13:3-4). God ordained human governments as a minister for good as well as a minister for evil; “it does not bear the sword for nothing.” Sadly, not every government has done well in bearing the sword for good. Even our own has blood on its hands for legalizing abortion. We need to pray that our government will protect innocent life, not destroy it.
7. Pray that God will teach us not to worry about the outcome (Phil. 4:6-7). Our greatest problem during election season is that we fear men more than we do God. I believe this is why we wring our hands in restless anxiety over “what will become of our nation if so-and-so gets to be president.” Friends, we must learn that God is in control of all things, even the rise and fall of kings (Dan. 2:21). Even if the worst should happen come November, how will it change our responsibility to serve God Almighty?