Have you ever prayed for the president of the United States? That’s any president, not necessarily the current resident of the White House or any specific commander in chief.
And – a little closer to home – have you ever prayed for your state’s governor or your city’s mayor, police chief or the superintendent of your local schools?
These are just a few of the many civil officials who hold elected or appointed public office in our communities, states, regions and nation. Their significant responsibilities, influence, authority and resources touch your life and the lives of family members (and pets) living with you, your home and other property, maybe your workplace or business, church, and friends and neighbors.
And even though you have the power to vote and the means of voicing your concerns directly to public officials, the influence you have as an individual over civil authorities can seem limited. But there is one way anyone can powerfully influence people and circumstances.
According to the New Testament book of James, “… The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect” (James 5:16, Christian Standard Bible).
The Appeal to Pray for the President and Other Government Leaders
Not only is the Bible encouraging about the powerful impact prayer can have over our circumstances, scripture also specifically promotes prayer as an essential activity for supporting our civil authorities.
Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2, urging “… that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority. … (1 Timothy 2:1-2a, CSB)
Paul was calling on Christians to use this powerful tool on behalf of government leaders’ efforts to provide safe, secure and peaceful living conditions. But he also connects these prayers to their hoped-for potential outcome: “So that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:2b-3, CSB).
The Approaches to Praying for Government Leaders
In his appeal to pray for “all those who are in authority,” Paul offered several specific approaches you can take: Prayers, petitions, intercessions, and thanksgivings.
Prayers are communications between you and God. At their best, prayers are two-way conversations. As you talk with God about the president or other leaders, share with him how you feel about the people you are praying for. Name them specifically. Ask God to give you empathy and patience if you have issues with what they are doing.
Petitions are requests on someone’s behalf. If you’re concerned about a specific issue or concern that the president or another leader has influence or control over, ask God to provide that leader with the insight and wisdom to lead in a way that provides justice for those who will be affected, whatever the outcome.
Intercessions are similar to petitions but imply a more active or intense attitude toward your request. Intercession is an effort to mediate, arbitrate or negotiate an eventual outcome. Intercession on a leader’s behalf may be more intense than a simple petition because the request may involve an urgent issue close to you or a loved one or a cause that you closely follow and support.
Thanksgivings offer you an opportunity to offer gratitude for the things the president or other leaders are getting “right.” Scripture even commands that we “give thanks in all circumstances 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV). At times this is challenging because it may be hard to express thanks for tough decisions that leaders sometimes have to make.
The Application of Scripture to Your Prayers for the President and Other Leaders
When you don’t know how to pray for your civil authorities, it’s helpful to always have some scriptures that can guide your prayers. Here are a few to get you started:
1 Kings 3:9 – To make decisions that are in the best interest of the nation and citizens.
2 Chronicles 1:1 – To be given wisdom and knowledge.
Ezra 6:10 – To be kept healthy and safe.
Romans 13:4 – To uphold high standards of righteousness.
Jeremiah 29:7 – To seek peace and prosperity.
James 1:27 – To care for those in need.
Galatians 6:10 – To provide better lives for those under their leadership.
Proverbs 21:1 – For God’s will to be done through their leadership.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Palidachan
Tim Tune is a freelance journalist based in Fort Worth, Texas. His work has been published by Baptist Press, as well as the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Business Press, Arlington Today magazine and other North Texas publications.