One summer when I was in college, I worked at a Salvation Army day camp. We kept the kids busy with lots of activities, lots of playing, lots of singing, lots of eating, and lots of Bible lessons. During one of the teaching times on the lawn, one of the campers, a boy of about 10, got up and walked away. I caught up to him down the block, and we sat down together on the curb. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he was tired of hearing the same stories over and over again. I told him I feel that way sometimes, too. But, I said, so much of following Jesus is not learning new things but being reminded of things we already know.
So here’s one of those reminders—if not for you, then certainly for me.
“I urge, then, first of all,” writes Paul of Tarsus, “that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority.”
Now the readers at A Life Overseas cover a lot of territory, so “kings and all those in authority” is a wide-ranging group. But are we supposed to pray for all of them?
What about those who sell the power of their positions to the highest bidder?
What about those who deny basic freedoms within the borders of their country?
What about those who persecute, imprison, and kill those who choose to follow a religion outside the dictates of the state?
What about those who claim godship and demand worship from their people?
What about those who threaten, abuse, and murder the innocent?
What about those who lie and twist the truth for personal gain?
What about those who beat plough shares into swords and bang the drums of war?
What about those who amass wealth at the expense of their citizens?
What about those who brazenly live out and promote the immorality in their hearts?
What about those who target people groups for removal, slavery, or extinction?
What about those who abandon convictions for political convenience and self preservation?
All? Yes, for all, let us pray—for wisdom, for God’s will to be done through them, for salvation, for blessings, for mercy.
And let us pray with thanksgiving. For that we may need some creativity, yea, even inspiration. But we have on our side the one who teaches us to love even our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, so that we may be children of our heavenly father.
When I was young, I would end my bedtime prayer by asking for blessings for my parents and sister, followed with “God bless the whole, whole world and everything on it.” That’s an easy way to cover all the bases without really covering any of them. But we as a group can pray for the whole, whole world because each of us can pray for a corner of the world. And we can pray for people by name, both the powerless and the powerful. What a footprint our prayers have because of all the names we know.
Again, nothing new here, just a reminder.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (I Timothy 2:1-4, NIV)
For those in authority, let us pray.