Robert Griffith | 23 March 2024
Robert Griffith
23 March 2024

 

As I was watching the news a few nights ago, in the space of ten minutes, I listened to our Prime Minister, the American President, the former (and would be) American President and the Premiers of two Australian States. I ended up walking out of the lounge room to tidy up in the kitchen as I was so disheartened to hear the political rhetoric and diatribe coming from most of these people on a variety of issues. I remember shaking my head almost in despair as I washed the dishes and found myself wondering where our world is headed when there is such a desperate shortage of wise, discerning leaders with a servant-heart.

Then God joined me at the kitchen sink, as He often does, and asked one question: are you really praying for your nation? The answer was ‘yes’ but it was a pretty weak ‘yes’ as I was not really committed to that important task.  So, over the next few days I gave this a lot of thought and asked God to remind me how I can really pray for my nation.

If you are concerned enough to join me in this process, here are some suggestions for how Christians can pray for their nation, their political leaders, and themselves as they pursue Christ through an increasingly political culture. Consider using these verses in your own personal prayer time and in your small group or bible study. If have identified five key things we need be praying for:

>  Pray for your own peace and joy in the midst of change

Philippians 4:4–7  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Politics uniquely combines attempts to persuade others who do not agree with you, as well as a polarization/demonization of those who do not agree with you. Thus, politics can be addictive because everything becomes urgent. If the wrong person wins or if the right bill fails, our minds significantly exaggerate the fallout. Thus, politics is addicting, consuming, and leads to a life void of joy. Those I’ve known who have been in politics professionally figured out how to disengage. But there is a tendency in many to consume political news and updates. This leads to anxiety and a loss of joy.

This is exasperated when elections are on the horizon and that feels like all the time! So it might be good to ask yourself from time to time, has politics stolen my joy? Am I anxious about the future? If so, confess, repent, and return to taking your thoughts captive for the joy of the Lord. There is no better passage to meditate upon and pray through than Paul’s words above in Philippians 4. Pray that these verses would mark your life.

>  Pray for your own submission to the government

Romans 13:1–7  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.”

In most ‘enlightened, new age’ western nations today, submission to government is often treated as a weakness, not a virtue. But the Bible describes submission in a way that makes it even stronger than our world. Submission gives way to respect, and respect to honour. God calls His people to love, honour, respect – and yes, even pay – those in governmental authority over us.  There is a sense in which democracy makes this difficult – it is hard for some people to respect leaders for whom they didn’t vote. But that is exactly what the Bible calls us to do.

So, pray to God and ask Him to help you grow in your respect for those in authority over you. This is something only God can do, but when He does, the result can be life-changing.

>  Pray for your leaders to come to Christ

1 Timothy 2:1-6  “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 Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

Surprisingly, Paul does not challenge Christians to “speak truth to power,” or seek to right the wrongs in government. Instead, he calls Christians to lead a peaceful and quietly life – to fly under the radar. To simply fit in, so that what stands out would be Christ and not us. Basically, we should pray that our political leaders leave us alone. But Paul goes even further than prayer for government to not notice us. He calls Christians to pray that their governmental leaders come to Christ. It is true that Jesus came for the humble and the broken. There are not many who are wise in the world eyes who are going to be converted (1 Corinthians 1:26). Nevertheless, God desires all kinds of people to be saved – even kings! Pray that God would place Christians around your nation’s leaders, just as He placed Paul around Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22).

>  Pray for your leader’s morality

Proverbs 29:1-8  “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy. When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down. Those who flatter their neighbours are spreading nets for their feet. Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad. The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger.”

The above passage expresses the reality that when a nation is ruled by wicked people, suffering increases. The parallelism in this passages links the sin of pride to suffering, prostitution, bribery, flattering speech, and ultimately the exploitation of the poor. Pray that instead of those sins, our leaders would be marked by humility, righteousness, wisdom, justice, and compassion.

>  Pray for your trust in God’s sovereignty

Isaiah 40:6–17  “A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry? All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counsellor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.”

A passage like Isaiah 40 causes us to zoom out and get perspective. There are more than 8 billion people alive now, and in 70 years’ time nearly all of them will be gone, and replaced with another 10 billion, most of whom will live in nations like China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan – nations without a strong gospel witness. There is a sense of immediacy when we focus on our own political issues that dissipates when we look out at the world and up at the Lord. Reading and praying through a passage like Isaiah 40 causes us to take our eyes off of ourselves and our own children, and wrestle with the fact that God is eternal. He establishes kings and kingdoms, and He will bring history to a screeching halt according to His own timetable. Fervent prayer is what is required to escape the artificial immediacy and self-importance that fills so much of our culture.

Pray for your nation today, and every day!