The substantial majority of readers of this site do not care for Barack Obama’s presidency. This assertion is to understatement something like a kitchen faucet is to Niagara Falls.
Yet Christians are not given the option of letting their disagreement with their political leaders prevent them from praying for those leaders. The apostle Peter wrote that believers are to “submit yourselves to every human authority for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or to governors, as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and to praise those who do right. … Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:13-14, 17).
Similarly, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Therefore I exhort first of all that you make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, for kings and for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
Who was emperor when Peter and Paul wrote these words? None other than one of the most notorious political leaders of history, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known generally simply as Nero.
What kind of ruler was Nero? He murdered his mother and both of his wives, for starters. But his grotesque brutality far transcended his immediate family. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, after fire had consumed roughly half of Rome and his popularity was in free-fall, Nero decided to blame the fire on Christians. Tacitus records that, among other things, the early Roman followers of Jesus “were covered with the skins of wild animals and then torn apart by dogs, some were crucified, some were burned at torches to light as night” (The One Year Christian History, p. 322).
Thankfully, none of America’s political leaders—local, state or federal—can claim such infamy. This does not diminish the wrong that they have done or continue to allow. For example, the silent cries of more than 56 million unborn children aborted since 1973 echo through the corridors of power. Yet we are called to pray for those in authority; God’s Word says it, and Christians must do it.
How, then, should we pray for those in authority over us, whether they be persons we respect or with whose political judgment we agree, or persons whose character and official policies we cannot endorse?
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