The author of First Timothy first urges that prayers, supplications, thanksgivings, and intercessions be made for everyone, but then he singles out one particular group: kings and all who are in high positions. The implication is that praying for one’s leaders isn’t a natural impulse. Is this true for us?
I imagine it depends on how we feel about particular leaders. If we’re sympathetic to their perspective and strategies or are connected to them personally, it likely feels more natural to concern ourselves with them in our prayer lives. If it’s a leader we despise or vehemently disagree with, I suspect most of us rarely spare a thought for her or him that isn’t an angry one.
This passage suggests, however, that concerning ourselves spiritually with those in power is crucial to “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” It says that God wants everyone to follow God’s will, including—perhaps especially—those with power. We are to pray that our leaders behave and lead in ways that promote God’s love and justice. Whether we support and defend or decry and reject a given leader, it is our responsibility to seek a world in which those in power live in ways that reflect God’s love and care for all people.
I’ve often heard it said that sometimes we pray with our words and sometimes we pray with our feet. It seems that seeking faithful and righteous behavior from our leaders requires more than silent prayer. It requires that we engage our leaders in ways that call upon their better angels and our own. And we must do so from a place of love and faith.
God, guide our leaders in your wisdom. Give them hearts of courage to enact your love and justice. Amen.
Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet,” grieves for the plight of his people. They have provoked God’s judgment by following foreign gods, and now there is no comfort to be found. The psalmist cries out to God from a similar situation of despair. Foreign nations have overrun the land, destroyed Jerusalem, and killed many of its people. The psalmist cries out to God for compassion and restoration. The author of First Timothy gives his readers two commands. They should pray for and honor their leaders, and they should be faithful to the one true God, with whom they have a relationship through Christ Jesus. Jesus in Luke tells a strange parable about a dishonest manager who is commended for his shrewd business sense, but Jesus turns his story into a teaching about good stewardship.
Read Jeremiah 8:18–9:1. When have you called out to God in distress?
Read Psalm 79:1-9. As you search for solutions to life’s problems, how do you demonstrate God’s call to love and to justice?
Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7. How do you pray for your local, state or province, and national leaders with whom you agree? with whom you disagree?
Read Luke 16:1-13. How do you negotiate the complexities of Jesus’ call to be a good steward of your resources as you work to serve God rather than money?
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