They set direction for our institutions. They decide on policies that affect generations. They influence the destiny of a nation.
Elected officials and government officials are influencers who can make a dent in our day to day lives. What happened in Britain a few weeks ago is further proof on the kind of impact public servants could exert. They can convince a people to upturn decades-long arrangements and dramatically alter the political and economic landscape of the country.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership” says leadership guru and bestselling author John Maxwell. It’s a saying that bears much truth and it applies even in a socio-economic setting. Because a government official’s ability to lead can directly impact the quality of life of those under his domain. When a public servant behaves more like someone who must be served than someone who must serve, the public is the casualty of such self-absorbed governance.
When we pray for government leaders, we’re not just holding the ropes for them, we are influencing our collective destiny for the good.
Traffic jams, abhorrent delays in issuance of licenses and car plates, aborted government contracts, and sub-standard airport facilities are part and parcel due to failures in public leadership. Millions are affected when leaders in government agencies and institutions deliberately forego excellence and efficiency when executing their responsibility.
The idea that the quality of public leadership could have a direct impact on the quality of life is implied in this verse that ministers invoke to congregants, when urging them to pray for elected officials:
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2, New International Version 1984.
In another translation it notes:
“Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” 1 Timothy 2:2, New Living Translation
An environment that is peaceful and quiet, conducive to and marked by godliness and holiness.
As a Christian and a citizen of a society that has not been at war in my 30 years of existence, I value and appreciate an environment with these life-giving conditions. I want to live in a country that allows me to practice my faith. I want to live in a society that is crime-free and unperturbed by existential threats, plague or calamity. I want to live in a nation devoid of violence and upheaval. I want to live in a state where laws are just, applicable to all, and favors no one.
Prayer can also serve as a more productive and emotionally healthy substitute to grumbling and complaining.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 provides an important and crucial step, that will help create living conditions that are conducive to peace, quietness, godliness and holiness:
Pray for kings (referring to persons in public authority) and all those in authority.
When we pray for government leaders, we’re not just holding the ropes for them, we are influencing our collective destiny for the good. When we pray that our leaders be filled with wisdom, that they would make righteous decisions for the common good, that they will not cheat or be bribed, that they would fight for justice and stand for what is right – we are asking that for ourselves. As individuals under their leadership, their day to day actions and decisions influence the way we live. We benefit when they do their jobs right.
Government leaders have a say on a multitude of crucial issues: From domestic policies to foreign affairs, large-scale infrastructure to public parking spaces, the price of gold to the market rate of fish. The environment created by their decisions and policies affect these social and economic concerns.
Praying for those in authority is an act of obedience to Him whom we consider the Highest Authority.
Not only that, we enable ourselves to be more empathetic and less of a skeptic when we pray for them. “Praying for someone is one of the greatest acts of love,” my friend Skye once shared with us in a prayer meeting.We nurture a much-needed sense of selflessness when we divinely petition on behalf of someone. Prayer can also serve as a more productive and emotionally healthy substitute to grumbling and complaining. Instead of verbal assaults to government officials, we heap on divine possibilities when we pray for them.
We must also remember that praying for those in authority is an act of obedience to Him whom we consider the Highest Authority in our lives and in our land. In this case, when we obey, we gain blessings not only for ourselves but even for those around and above us.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” the great Edmund Burke said.
If we are to overcome societal ills that have plagued us for generations, then we must seek divine intervention.
We can start by praying for those with the power to make a difference.