Dear Friends,

If our elected officials become Christians, would they govern better? Answering this blunt question helps reveal some of the prejudices which guide our prayers.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, written while the mad and evil Nero was emperor, Paul wrote this, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may live a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Now this teaching is very simple. Christians are to pray for “kings and those in high positions”. We are to pray for those who we like just as much as we are to pray for those we detest. We are to pray that they will govern in such a way that the people in the country live in peace and security. We are to pray that they govern in such a way that our dignity as human beings is preserved. We are to pray that they govern in accord with God’s moral laws. In other words, a law is not good because the procedures were followed to pass the law. A law is good if it is in accord with, or in harmony with, what it is truly good and true and beautiful. So we pray for kings and those in positions of high authority.

Now, it is also good to pray that kings and those in high authority will come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord takes no delight in the death of a sinner, but that they would turn from their wickedness and live. So we should pray for our Prime Minister, just as we should pray for our neighbours, friends and co-workers. It is important that we regularly pray evangelistically. Pray that you will pray for the salvation of others!

But note that in all of this, we are really praying for two different things. Most of us, upon reflection, would acknowledge that just because a person is a Christian it does not follow that they would be a better Prime Minister – or that if the Prime Minister became a Christian one day, he or she would be a Prime Minister better the next. We cannot fall into the conceit that Christians do everything, including governing, the best. Nowhere in the bible does it teach that upon conversion, a Christian will now be the best. So we need to pray for those in high positions to become Christians because we should be praying evangelistically. We should pray that those in high positions to rule well, because the Lord has commanded us to do that as well. Please pray for me that I will practice what I write!

Please note how broad the scope of our prayers should be, “those in high positions”. This means we should remember those who work in the civil service, especially at the higher level. In Canada today, it means we should remember to pray for business leaders, University presidents, heads of major cultural organizations, the judiciary, leaders of our police and military, and heads of hospitals. I think all of these positions are covered by the Bibles words. I know, that is a lot of people to pray for! Each of us is to remember what the Bible says and do what we can. The major point is that many of us complain about these institutions, but we do not pray for them. We have the time and mental energy to complain and get angry – but not enough time and mental energy to pray? What is wrong with this picture?