Q. Whenever I express my concern about our current government, well meaning friends say that we are to pray for those in authority citing 1 Timothy 2:1-3. Seeing all that I believe is going wrong, I have great difficulty praying for such people. Are my friends using these verses correctly?
A. Your friends are stopping one verse short. 1 Tim. 2:1-4 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession 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. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
By including verse 4, which I’ve underlined, we see that the intended result of Paul’s admonition to pray for our leaders is to bring them to a saving faith in our Lord Jesus. The more discouraged we are about the way our leaders are behaving the more focused our prayers of intercession should be, so they can be changed by the Holy Spirit into Godly men and women who seek His will. Therefore our prayers are not expressions of support or approval, but in fact are just the opposite. We don’t ask the Lord to change the hearts of leaders who are already doing what we think is right. They’re the ones for whom we offer prayers of thanksgiving.