1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
It has been said that one of the most talked about yet least practiced spiritual disciplines is prayer. When it comes to believers praying for the office of the President of the United States, this is perhaps even more true! I am often guilty of proffering political opinion in the form of utterance to God rather than providing powerful prayer for personal transformation when it comes to politics. The trajectory of my prayers often reveals much about my spiritual walk, and sometimes my prayer life is evidence of my own spiritual immaturity.I could ask God for anything, yet I spend most of my time complaining about things that simply don’t matter. Am I more concerned about my political position or about the eternal position of those for whom I pray? Do my prayers extend beyond my own preference or discomfort, or do they stay way from the realm of the nations and God’s grace to the entire earth? In truth, my ability to articulate a position has no cosmic power whatsoever, yet when I pray I am speaking to the One who created the cosmos simply by speaking. My attempt to persuade another to a policy has no lasting change to the heart, yet when I pray I am speaking to the One who holds the hearts of all leaders in His hands to direct wherever He wills (Proverbs 21:1).
In the end, what I’ve realized is that my prayer pattern for our President is more driven by what’s bothering me in that moment based on a news report than what’s significant in eternity. Basing my prayer in my annoyances is a terrible way to pray! I’d like to change that in my own heart this year.
With the inauguration of a new president, I have a chance to pray the right way for our new President. And so, this year I will be using 1 Timothy 2:1 as a template to guide my prayer. If this is pleasing to God then it’s something I want to do! (2:3). It’s not a complicated way to pray, nor is it anything new. It is as old as the Church itself and the King who rules over it, and is a pathway to align my prayer with God’s desire to see all people saved (2:4)! After all, a cursory reading through the prayers of Jesus Christ on earth reveals He makes supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving as a regular part of His prayer life, even on behalf of those who had just driven the nails into His hands on the Cross!
And so, here’s a way to pray for our President in the coming year. Each time I pray for Joe Biden, I’ll be making:
“Supplications” carries the sense of deep spiritual need for which I am praying. In other words, what is the spiritual need our President has? What is the request I am making for his spiritual development? What does he need from God?
“Prayers” is a the general term for praying to God, but a reminder that it is to God that we are praying. We are not asking an earthly power to move, nor are we hoping in any ultimate fulfillment of what we are praying for to come from anywhere else other than Heaven. We are, when we pray for our president, speaking to God about him. How would I approach God about my president? What would the presence of God guide, guard, and govern my prayer? In practice, for me this involves taking a moment to quiet my heart and focus my mind on what’s of eternal value as I’m speaking to God.
“Intercessions” is just what you know it means – to stand in the gap for another and plead on their behalf. With this, we are petitioning God on behalf of our president. If President Biden succeeds, we all benefit. If God chooses to bless and lead him, it is for everyone’s good. In intercession, we stand before our King and ask Him to move in our President as God does in us – forming us more and more into the image of Christ.
Thanksgiving, sometimes called gratitude, is always a requirement when going into the presence of God in prayer (for a great book, see A Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks by Dustin Crowe). Relative to our President, gratitude toward God for the good gifts He allows us to enjoy through this leader, even at times when some policies are not what we would prefer or are even oppressive, is a proper posture while praying. What are the things I can be thankful for? What are joys that I see around me that I can thank God for?
So this year, and really for the next four years, I will be focusing on supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving when praying for our president. I know that one day I will stand before God and give an account for how I prayed, and in that day I hope to be able to hear from Him, “You didn’t always get it right, but you kept asking Me for the things I cared most about on behalf of your earthly leader! Well done! That’s how I told you to pray in my Word!” Yes, may it be that we pray in a way that God says, “Well done! That’s what I told you to do and you did it!”