PRAYING FOR OTHERS: PART 1 - PRAYER FOR THOSE IN AUTHORITY
Dear Members in Christ,
Praying for others: Part 1 - Prayer for those in authority
The people of God are to be prayerful people. Who do we pray for? And what kind of prayers do we pray? Firstly, the Bible exhorts us to pray “for all men.” The Apostle Paul in his epistle to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1, 2 writes:
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
Christians are to be prayerful in all matters. We all pray regularly for the ministries of the church, for our families, for our personal health and spiritual well-being and of course we pray for those in authority. In this article, we will examine why the word of God exhorts us to pray for this specific item. By this, I mean the exhortation to pray for those in authority.
The Bible offers us the reasons for praying for those in authority. This is the wisdom from God’s word. We must understand what it was like in the days of the Apostle Paul, and what part the men in authority have to do with the peace and prosperity of the people under their rule. Hopefully, this will remind us to pray meaningfully for those who have authority over us.
A. The known world in the 1st Century was ruled by the Roman Empire.
In the first century A.D., the known world was under the rule of the Roman Empire. In those days, the Romans rule a vast empire stretching from parts of Northern Europe, Spain, the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Anatolia, parts of Arabia, the Levant, Syria Egypt and the North African coast. It was under this authoritarian rule that trade flourished, because law and order was enforced. Whichever nation the Romans occupied, they would station garrison troops. Sometimes, they will install a “king” such as King Herod to rule the local populace. Often their rule was harsh and cruel, especially if there was the potential of sedition or violence due to local disorder such a banditry. But generally, it was effective, and apart from occasional uprisings and, in most places, law and order was upheld.
In fact, this period was referred to by historians as “Pax Romana”, a 200-year period from 27 BC to roughly 180 AD. The Latin phrase “Pax Romana” meant “Roman peace.” Peace and prosperity came to places that abided by the laws of the land, no doubt imposed by Rome for its’ own benefit. But by and large, peace prevailed.
It is a scriptural truth, that where there are wise god-fearing rulers, peace and prosperity will grace the land. Proverbs 14:34 tells us, “Righteousness exalteth a nation…” and Proverbs 20:28, “Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.” Also, Proverbs 29:14, “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.”
What do we petition when we pray for those in authority? The answer is, to pray for God to grant them wisdom and righteousness to rule the land. And also to pray that they may rule with mercy and truth, and bring peace and prosperity for the land.
B. The prayer for those in authority is pleasing to God
God’s word gives the reason for praying for those in authority. The Bible says about praying for those in authority, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
The Bible in this passage reveals it is God’s desire that all men will come to the knowledge of salvation. If peace and prosperity prevails, the believer may enjoy the fruits of the goodness, but at the same time, the child of God must be mindful about the call and service to be a good witness of the truth. The authority is vital to the peace of the land, and Romans 13:1 tells us that the powers that be are ordained by God. Thus, we pray for the well-being and for wisdom of men in authority.
Therefore, the apostle Paul ends with this note, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” Believers, let us not neglect to pray for those in authority. In the immediate context, it refers to those who rule the land. However, as a wider application, it also refers to those whom God have put in authority over us and their representatives. Not forgetting also those who have authority over us such as our employers, to whom we serve. We do this, the bible exhorts, in order that we may live in peace and testify of God’s goodness towards us. May God help us to be good witnesses of His love and salvation upon us. Amen.
Dn. Lim Seh Beng