WHY PRAY FOR NATIONS AND LEADERS?
A massive debate comes up online from time to time…. “Why can’t I criticize my government if they are not doing well? Why can’t I lambast the President? We put him there!” Some even claim to be his employer since he is paid from tax-payers’ money! I find all this kind of talk quite worrisome, especially coming from Christians; but I don’t really blame them because the Pastors are no better because, in Nigeria, many Pastors have turned their pulpits into places where anti-government sentiments and lambasting of the President comes forth on a regular basis! Therefore, before we begin posting prayer-points for the nation, our government and our leaders, let us first settle the Biblical point of view about the matter.
Why is it wrong to criticize and lambast leaders?
1/ Because nowhere in Scripture are we told we can do so. In fact, we are warned many times not to do so because IT IS DANGEROUS! –
Exodus 22:28 KJVA
Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (underline added for emphasis)
In this letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul is quoting from the Ten Commandments written WITH THE FINGER OF GOD and recorded in Exodus 20:1-17; and this is the Fifth Commandment, written in verse 12. Oh, many would tell me indignantly when I use this Scripture to chide them about the dishonouring words they used against the President of their nation, “But he is not my father!” Seriously? Are you really waiting for God to add, “Hey! And don’t dishonour the fathers of ‘so and so and so’ either!” God is not a talkative and He knows that the brain He gave us is quite capable of working out the details of that simple commandment; and that anyone who has learnt to honour his parents at home would find it difficult to dishonour another parent outside.
2/ Because the word criticize is what the Bible calls murmuring in Scripture, and those who murmured against Moses in the wilderness rather caused him to derail and sin against God in anger. And God punished both Moses and the murmurers – He destroyed the murmurers in the wilderness and both they and Moses never entered the Promised Land!
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. ‘
The word ‘criticize’ means ‘to indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way, to censure, denounce, condemn, lambast, attack…’ These are uncharitable words and there must be a better way to express ourselves as Christians when talking about an older person, especially someone in a place of honour. The Bible says in many places and in different ways that we should give honour to whom honour is due, especially to elders. I shall quote one here where God Himself made it plain through Moses –
Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord .
And the Lord Jesus made it plain that He does not support criticism. He said to those who criticized the woman caught in adultery, recorded in Jn.8:7, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. The Lord never said she did not sin, but He is saying, “Why are you so angry and indignant at her? Are you yourself perfect and never make mistakes?”
3/ Because a head of government is not our servant but God’s appointed Servant and He warned us that being that He Himself enthrones every leader as His servants, we should leave them to Him and not judge or criticize them…
Ro.13:1-4 (Amplified Version)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore whoever resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves. For [civil] authorities are not a source of fear for [people of] good behavior, but for [those who do] evil. Do you want to be unafraid of authority? Do what is good and you will receive approval and commendation. For he is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, [you should] be afraid; for he does not carry the [executioner’s] sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an avenger who brings punishment on the wrongdoer. (Underline added)
Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Some Christians have the belief that political leaders chosen by God as His servants, cannot include non-Christians; but not so, Beloved. God is interested in all leaders, simply for the sake of His Children in their domain! God cannot afford to leave any part of His universe unattended because of us. God is sovereign and can call and use anyone He created for His purposes on earth. Hear what He said of Cyrus, the Medo-Persian ruler, a valiant army general He Himself raised up to conquer the Babylonian empire, when it was time to deliver His People Israel from Babylonian captivity…
For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
The role of the army general, Cyrus, was so key in the deliverance of His people from Babylon that God had prophesied all about him 600 years before he was born, even mentioning his name and calling him ‘my shepherd’! “… that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure” Isa.44:28
God chose a Medo-Persian leader because He knew that while Babylonians had the policy of taking conquered nations captive and removing them to Babylon, the Medo-Persians do the opposite – they would leave the conquered people in their own land and force them to pay tribute to Persia. And that was what Cyrus was raised to do – to return the Israelites back to their land with all the treasures that Nebuchadnezzar stole from the Temple when they were carried off to Babylon! Read how Cyrus fulfilled God’s purpose in Ezra chapter 1.
God used many other unbelieving leaders as recorded in Scripture – the Pharaoh who received Joseph and his family and gave then their own land in Egypt, thereby saving them from the tragedy of seven years of terrible drought since Egypt was the only nation that had food. And what about all the kings of Babylon who favoured and promoted Daniel during their reign? God does raise up unbelieving leaders with special purpose in mind for them; and all we need to do is pray for them, and any leader for that matter, that they would be ministers of God to do us good according to God’s Word in Romans 13 quoted above.
4/ Because the Lord Jesus never criticised the government of His day and neither is it recorded in the Book of Acts and the Epistles that the Disciples criticized any government. The Lord even paid taxes and told us to give to political leaders what is due them; referring to Caesar, the head of the Roman Empire then – And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s… Mk.12:17a
5/ Because the prophets used to bring correction from God to kings in the Old Testament up to John the Baptist, does not give any of us the right to do so unless the government asks for spiritual guidance from a particular Pastor or Prophet. And the reason is quite simple – Israel had a Theocratic government then, and God Himself was the Head of their government and He appointed and ordained Prophets who would take His Words to the people. Most nations now have Democratic governments, and most nations are multi-religious, therefore nobody is appointed as prophets to the nations any more.
Does it then mean we must keep mute and never express our minds to our leaders when we are dissatisfied with their performance? Not at all, and that is why there are proper official channels for exercising our rights to be heard by our leaders; but we must express ourselves with due respect and honour expected of Children of the God of love and peace. Even the Prophets of old would honour the king and go to the palace to deliver their messages; they never stood in the Temple or in the town square and lambast the king for all to hear as some Pastors do from their pulpits or on television now! Besides, talking politics from the pulpit is an irreverent aberration because when people come into the Presence of God in the local assemblies, they desire to hear FROM GOD. Surely, they did not come to hear the Pastor’s political views. And do all his congregation belong to the same political party? No! It is even dishonouring to God for His People to gather unto Him and the Pastor then proceeds to be sharing his views on national affairs!
Why must I pray for my nation and her leaders?
1/ Because God commands it and it is to be of PROPRITY when we pray and it is UNCONDITIONAL…
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority;… (underline added for emphasis)
Here God did not say we should pray for a leader if he is doing well or if he belongs to this tribe or that, or if he belongs to this religion or that, or to our favoured political party or not! All those are irrelevant to intercession. In fact, the leader who is not a Believer needs our prayers more; and so does any leader who is not doing well! It is not a time for lamenting and propagating sanctimonious anti-government propaganda, No! Such should not be mentioned ONCE among us.
2/ Because it is self-preservatory…
…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;…
God says here that it is for our own good if we pray for our leaders, simple and plain! And that we would be pleasing God if we do. Our words have power and they shape our lives and our world. So, if a critical number of we Christians in a nation pray for our leaders regularly, those leaders will be what we ask God for in our prayers. If we allow those who rail and curse at our leaders to have the day, then our leaders will behave just like confused and cursed men and women!
I have lived long enough to watch African leaders who started well and gathered brilliant knowledgeable teams around them, but they ended up doing abysmally! One was called names, notably ‘clueless’, and he began to be just that even though he had a PhD! Another one who was a true Believer and made us so glad at the start of his administration, but he ended up looting his nation’s treasury and was prosecuted at the end of his reign for gross corruption! This will not be unrelated to the fact that Christians who should have been praying for him began, FROM INCEPTION, to fight each other about which denomination should run the Chapel in their presidential lodge rather than unite and concentrate on praying for him!
3/ Because God is actually seeking for those who will pray for nations so that He can have mercy on them rather than judge them…
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God .’
We need to fulfill this yearning of God, Beloved. And it actually pays us to serve God and seek to assist in His efforts to fulfill His desires on the earth; and we can only do this by praying along in agreement with Him. This is why God sought for Abraham and allowed him to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah before He destroyed the two cities. See Gen.18:16-33. And nobody serves God and regrets it; besides the benefits are generational.
And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord , to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
4/ Because you yourself get to be blessed by the nation which you pray for and you eat of the good of the land, even if it is a strange land….
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. ‘
And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
In conclusion, Beloved, God wants us to pray about everything in agreement with His desires on earth. He said quite plainly that this is why He set up His Household on earth…
…even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. ‘
Learning to pray and get results is the reason why this blog was set up and this section is to guide us into praying effectively for our nations.
10 April 2020