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Fasting Day 14: Praying for Our Government

Praying for Our Government

Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, taught him the proper administration of the local church. Paul also gave instructions for the church’s ministry of prayer.

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Paul called for “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” to be offered first (v.1).  If we were to apply a blanket term that would include all four of these actions, it would be “prayer.”  When we meet together as Christians, our first duty is to pray.

In the next verse, Paul said that prayer is to be offered “for all people” (v.1).  This demonstrates that prayer is our primary outreach as well.

“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).

God is concerned for all people and expects us to share His concerns. Have your prayers during the fast been focused only on your needs, or have you prayed for others as well?

After instructing us to pray for “all people,” the first specific topic of prayer is “kings and all those in authority” (v.2).This indicates all those who are responsible for governing the nation – the government.

Government: The First Topic of Prayer

It is vital to note that the first specific topic of prayer ordained by God for His people meeting in fellowship is the government.  The majority of people who profess to be Christians never pray for their government.  When they gather and pray, they pray for the sick, the shut-ins, the missionaries, the lost…for anybody and anything except their government. In America, at least, this is sadly the case.

Paul gave specific instructions regarding what request we are to make: “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (v.2).The kind of government we live under affects the way we live. It determines whether or not we are able to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. So if we desire a good, godly way of life, we should pray for our government.

In Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, Derek Prince describes how this concept was revealed to him in a new way when applying for United States citizenship:

Like all who make application, I was required to study in outline the basic principles and purposes of the Constitution of the United States. As I meditated on these, I asked myself, ‘What was the real objective of those who originally drafted that Constitution?’ I concluded that their objective could be summed up with complete accuracy in the words of Paul: ‘That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.’ The authors of the Constitution had as their objective a state in which every citizen would be free to pursue his own legitimate interests without interference from other citizens or the government, but with the protection of the government and its officers. Judged by the language that they used, most, if not all, of those who drafted the Constitution viewed such a state as being possible only under the sovereign protection and favor of Almighty God. Christian citizens of the United States should forever be thankful that the basic charter of their nation agrees so exactly with the purposes and principles of government ordained by Scripture (emphasis added).[i]

Good Government is God’s Will

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul said, “this is good, and pleases God our Savior” (v.3). The pronoun “this” refers back to the previous verse, which we summarized above as “good government.” Now replace “this” with “good government” and you have a statement that says: “Good government is good and pleases God our Savior.” This can be restated more simply, “Good government is God’s will.”

Do you and I really believe that? If we do, our actions in prayer do not reflect it. We are more resigned to a government that is corrupt, far-reaching, wasteful, prideful, self-centered, unjust and immoral.

Why is good government God’s will? Paul stated the reason in verse 4. God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (v.4). God wants the salvation of all people so much that He made it possible through the ultimate sacrifice of history – the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Through faith in Christ’s atonement, salvation has been made available to all men. This is possible when they have the Gospel preached to them.

13 For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans10:13-14)

Here is the line of logic thus far: God desires “all people to be saved.” For this to occur, they must first “come to a knowledge of the truth.” Such knowledge comes through the preaching of the Gospel. Therefore, God desires the Gospel to be preached to all men.

So what is the connection between good government and the preaching of the Gospel? Which kind of government makes it easier and more possible to preach the Gospel – good government or bad government?

Good government maintains law and order; it keeps communications open, preserves  civil liberty, and protects freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. (it is noteworthy that nearly all these points are specifically covered by the Constitution of the United States.) In short, good government, without becoming involved in religious controversy, provides a climate in which the Gospel can be preached effectively.[ii]

On the flip side, bad government allows the destruction of law and order, poor communication standards, and imposes unjust restrictions.

In all of these ways, bad government hinders the effective preaching of the truth. In worst case scenarios, bad government either restricts or totally suppresses the right of all people to believe in God and to express their faith by public worship and confession.

So we see that good government enables the preaching of the Gospel, while bad government hinders it. This is why good government is God’s will.

If we break 1 Timothy 2:1-4 down into simple steps, we have the following:

1.  The first ministry and outreach of believers when we meet together is prayer.

2.  The first specific topic for prayer is the government.

3.  We are to pray for good government.

4.  God wants all men to have the truth of the Gospel preached to them.

5.  Good government facilitates the preaching of the Gospel, while bad government hinders it.

6.  Therefore, good government is the will of God.

Praying God’s Will

John described the confidence we have in prayer when we know we are praying God’s will.

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).

When we know that we have prayed according to God’s will, then we know that “we have” what we have asked of Him. It may not be manifested immediately, but we are assured that the thing is already granted to us by God.

Let’s combine Paul’s teaching with that of John.

1.  If we pray for anything knowing that it is according to God’s will, we have an assurance that the thing is granted to us by God.

2.  Good government is according to God’s will.

3.  If we know this and pray for good government, we have the assurance that good government is granted to us.

Seeing this, why, then, do we Christians have no assurance of good government? There are only two possible reasons:

1.  We do not pray at all for good government.

2.  We pray for good government, but without the knowledge that it is God’s will.

So long as we fail to pray, we Christians have no right to criticize. There is no better time to pray for our government than when we are on a 21-day fast! Fasting and prayer can impact a nation dramatically. Join me in praying for good government in America today.  [iii]

Question: How does it encourage you to know that good government is God’s will?

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES

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[i] Derek Prince, Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2002), 50

[ii] Shaping History, 52

[iv] Idea for this post from Shaping History, 47-56

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