We are RESPONSIBLE to PRAY for our LEADERS: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:1-4)
Prayer moves the hand that governs the world. Prayer is both a privilege and an obligation: it is a privilege for us to have audience with the Almighty God, and it is an obligation for we are debtors to all with reference to the good news of salvation (Romans 1:14). Apostle Paul lists four aspects of prayer—supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, which the Believer’s Bible Commentary has distinguished as follows:
- Supplication is the earnest pleading of specific requests and needs.
- Prayers cover all kinds of our reverent approaches to God.
- Intercessions are those forms of petition in which we address God on behalf of others.
- Giving of thanks describes prayer in which we rehearse the grace and kindness of our Lord, and pour out our hearts in gratitude to Him.
Thus, we should be humble, worshipful, trustful, and thankful when we pray. In the above passage, in particular Apostle Paul is exhorting his spiritual son Timothy that he is responsible to pray for his leaders – whether political, government, spiritual, work-related, etc. – anyone who is an authority figure. The reasons for that are because authorities are ordained of God (Rom. 13:1), and they are ministers of God to us for good (Rom. 13:4).
This instruction takes special meaning when we remember that Apostle Paul wrote this letter in the days of Nero. The terrible persecutions which were inflicted on the Christians by this wicked ruler did not affect the fact that Christians should pray for their government leaders. The reason Apostle Paul gives is that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (v. 2). It is for our own good that our government should be stable and that the country be preserved from revolution, civil war, turmoil, and anarchy. We must pray for those who are in authority over us if we wish to reap the benefits of good government, which is a prized gift from God for the church’s welfare and advancement of the gospel. This prayer is good and acceptable in the sight of God as well (v. 3).
To influence our leaders for God, we need to intercede on their behalf before God. God is the ultimate Sovereign. He is in control, and our prayers affect decisions at the highest level. God hears the prayers of the righteous (Prov. 15:29), and God will turn the leader’s heart as He wishes as an answer to our prayers, as we read in Prov. 21:1: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."