“I urge, then, first of all, that . . . prayers . . . be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority.”
1 Timothy 2:1,2
The Apostle Paul was a proclaimer of the Good News of Jesus in the first century A.D. During his ministry, one of the emperors of the Roman Empire was a man by the name of Nero. Nero embodied everything decadent about the Roman Empire at that time. He was self-indulgent, violent, and cruel. He arranged for his own mother to be stabbed to death. He had his wife murdered when he wanted to marry someone else. So awful was his regime that, when Nero died by suicide, a contemporary historian reported that citizens “ran through the streets . . . as though they were freed slaves.”
Then there was the great burning of Rome. When the city caught fire, many blamed their emperor. To divert attention, Nero chose to blame Christians. Under Nero’s orders, Christians were captured, tortured, executed. Some were hung up and set on fire to provide light for one of Nero’s evening parties.
This was the government under which the Apostle Paul lived. And it was under these circumstances that the Holy Spirit moved Paul to urge us to pray “for kings and all those in authority.”
And so here we are, in our own setting, in the twenty-first century. It is easy to complain about government leaders, to be cynical about government leaders, to rage against government leaders. It does not always occur to us to pray for them.
But stop for a moment and consider what we possess as Christians. Because of the forgiveness Jesus won for us, we possess the high privilege of entering the courts of the almighty God himself. We can come into his presence and talk to him in prayer. And when we speak to him about our government leaders, he will listen. What a privileged and powerful position to be in! May we not waste the opportunity to ask the King of the universe to bless the leaders of our land.
Lord, I pray for my government leaders. Give them wisdom. Guide their actions for the good of our society and for the furthering of your kingdom. Amen.