One of my pet peeves while attending church services is the form that prayers for government officials sometimes take. We often pray for “our President Barack, our governor Mike,” etc. If we had respectable officials who served with honor and respect for law, this excessive familiarity would be disrespectful of the offices. If, as is so often the case, we have officials who abuse their offices, excessive familiarity implies approval of their performance in office. Terms like “the President of the United States” and “the governor of our State” are appropriate.
Equally offensive is wording that attributes only the best of motives to the officials, and asks God to prosper their efforts. Knowing that President Obama’s (and most of his recent predecessors’ — of both parties) motives and many of his actions are illegal and unconstitutional, I can’t participate in such a prayer. Yet there are Biblical commands to pray for government officials:
- I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44.
Oh, but wait a minute. What does the quote from Matthew have to do with praying for government officials? It’s the basis of one of my previous posts (Pray for Osama bin Laden), but why bring it up with respect to praying for our president and others? Our officials, too, can be enemies. To the extent that they violate the Constitution or fail to enforce laws, they may be enemies of our nation. Examples of these include making “recess appointments” when Congress is not in recess, using “signing statements” to change the effect of laws passed by Congress, declaring that immigration laws will not be enforced, proposing international “agreements” to get around the constitutional requirement of Senate ratification of treaties, and many more. To the extent that they promote evil policies such as abortion or recognition of same-sex “marriages,” they may also be enemies of the Gospel.
Given that President Obama is an enemy of constitutional government, and in my opinion an enemy of the Gospel, what would be an appropriate prayer for him? Since he is both an individual soul with personal needs, and an official whose actions affect the health of our nation, we should pray for both him and the nation that he governs. Here are petitions that I could pray in church in good conscience.
We pray for the President of our country. Keep him and his family in good health and safety. May your Holy Spirit guide him to repent of his illegal acts against our Constitution, which it was his oath to “preserve, protect and defend;” and of his support for such evil practices as abortion and homosexual “marriage”. If he does so repent, grant him peace in the knowledge that forgiveness is his through your Son, Jesus Christ.
We pray for our nation, that you would bring about a revival of Christian faith among our people, and corresponding Christian behavior. Grant us leaders who will obey their oaths to “preserve, protect and defend” our fundamental law, the Constitution, and who will apply the precepts of your Commandments in making and enforcing law.