18 Aug Praying for the (Next?) President
Praying for our (Next?) President
by Rod Pinder
Some of my friends are praying fervently that President Donald Trump will win re-election in November 2020. I’m not.
I have other friends who are praying just as passionately for Joe Biden’s victory. I’m not praying for that either.
I think there is a more important issue. Instead of praying about which person will become our next president, I’m praying about what kind of person our next president will become.
Leadership Is a Tough Gig
Leadership isn’t easy. Leaders have to make hard decisions that impact many people. Think of the temptations that are thrown at our leaders. The higher the position of leadership, the stronger the temptations.
The pressure can be crushing. I know how demanding it was to be the leader of a local church. Imagine the pressure that comes to bear on a judge, mayor, senator, governor, or president!
These people need strength of character. These people need stamina. These people need courage. These people need wisdom. So, these people need our prayers. Whoever becomes president, therefore, pray for his (and someday, her) character. Pray that whoever wins will become a wiser, more righteous, more godly person. (Pray that for whoever loses, too.)
Always Pray for Leaders
The Bible shows us that we should pray for our leaders, whether we agree with them or not. During the last administration, a guest at the church where I was pastor startled me. She said she was surprised to hear me pray for President Obama. Apparently other churches she had attended didn’t pray for him.
I was sad to hear that. It was my habit to pray for the President and other leaders throughout my ministry. From Ronald Regan to Donald Trump, I always publicly asked God to guide and help the President and other leaders.
I developed that habit because 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Those verses become especially powerful when we remember that the early Roman emperors were hostile toward Christianity. Further, the Apostle Paul probably wrote these words when Nero was the emperor of Rome. Nero lifted hatred of Christians to new levels. Nero was known for his persecution of followers of Jesus. In fact, he was probably the emperor who ordered Paul’s death. Nevertheless, Paul tells us to pray for those in authority, including Nero.
If the Apostle could pray for Nero, we should always pray for our president, whoever he or she may be. It’s part of our responsibility as citizens and as disciples of Jesus.
Not all leaders are good leaders. Not all leaders are godly leaders. Nero is just one case in point. But the good news is that God even uses scoundrels to accomplish His purposes. One of the greatest examples in history is one of the most brutal leaders ever. Nebuchadnezzar was the ruthless despot of the Babylonian Empire. Yet God talks about him as “my servant Nebuchadnezzar” (Jeremiah 25:9, 27:6, 43:10)!
The great God of heaven uses even the tyrants of this world to accomplish His good and ultimately redemptive plans. Romans 8:28 even applies to government officials when it says, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Ultimately, it is God who chooses our leaders. As Daniel 2:21 reminds us, He deposes kings and raises up others. As Jesus informed Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11). God uses all leaders, good and bad, to bring about what He desires.
With the exception of my niece, who is a circuit court judge, I haven’t enthusiastically voted for a political candidate in decades. Too often, I’ve voted against the person I liked least. I always vote, but I thank God that, in the final analysis, He’s the one who decides who will govern. And He will use that person in that office for good.
Party, Country, or Kingdom?
We can get so caught up in politics that we lose our perspective as Christians. It is important to be an involved citizen of our nation, but there is something more important. Philippians 3:20-21 reminds us, our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
What matters is not the platform of the Democratic party. What matters is not the policies of the Republican party. When push comes to shove, it really isn’t even the good of the country that is important. Those are all temporary. What we really care about is the advancement of God’s Reign on earth.
Both parties have policies I prefer. For example, one party has what strikes me as a stronger position on racial equality. The other party tends to have a better stance on the question of abortion. These are just two of many crucial issues. No party gets everything right.
As Bret McCracken says in his article, “We Need Prophets, Not Partisans,”
“A gospel agenda may align with some aspects of one political party and some of another—and should spur us to engage in those areas—but it also decidedly rejects some aspects of both.”
And, “God’s agenda is better, bigger, and more glorious than any one party, nation, culture, or time. The mission of Jesus will outlast every White House tenure. It will outlast America itself. For the Christian, the “right side of history” is always the side that places faithfulness to the eternal God above loyalty to a temporal tribe.”
Our primary allegiance cannot be to either party or even to any nation. Our allegiance is to God and His Reign.
God Changes Hearts
God can and will accomplish His agenda through whatever person is elected. So pray for that person. By his Holy Spirit, God transforms people.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Pray that the next President of the United States will be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (See my video, “Transformed by the Spirit”) Pray for the transformation of the president who is elected in 2020 that that person will lead with character, strength and godly wisdom. Pray the same for the senate, and the congress and all government officials as well. (For a more thorough list of specific prayer suggestions, see “Pray for Our Leaders in Government” by Earl Rutledge.) Pray what Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Whoever that person may be, pray for our next president.
Rod Pinder, D.Min., Th.M. retired from pastoral ministry in 2019. He continues to help people grow in God’s Love in Jesus Christ through books, videos, music and preaching/speaking. Check out his books at his author page.