Is it Enough to Just Pray for Your Government?
1Timothy 2:1-3 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”
Clearly, Scripture teaches us that we should pray for our government. This is something that we cannot get around. However, recently I have encountered many who have told me that this is all we should do for our government. I believe we should do more than just pray for our government and I want to point out a few different Scripturally based reasons as to why.
First, the Bible never calls for prayer alone. James 1:5-8 makes this clear, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” We are to ask (pray) with faith, now you may be thinking that I am simply trying to point out a technicality, but I assure you, I am actually pointing to a Biblical mandate for how we are to pray. To understand what it means to pray in faith, we must understand what the Bible means by the word “faith”. Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” There are two parts to faith. The first is the “substance of things hoped for” this is referring much to what is commonly thought about faith, belief in something (although this passage implies that it is a sure belief in something much like a title or a deed). The second part of faith, as defined in Hebrews 11, is where the rubber really meets the road, “the evidence of things not seen”. This points to the fact that even when we have not yet received what we were promised (or are asking for in the case of prayer) we are called to have evidences in our life reflecting what we are believing. Simply put, real faith has real evidences. If we are to pray for our government with a prayer of faith, we inherently will have actions to accompany our prayer. According to Scripture you are double-minded if you pray for godly rulers but are unwilling to do anything to get godly leaders into office.
Secondly, it is not enough for Christians to just pray for our government because of God’s historic involvement in government. God instituted government in Genesis 9 and He is also still involved in government today (Romans 13). Whether it was the Theocracy that was set up in Israel, sending prophets to the kings of Israel, sending prophets to pagan lands like Nineveh, or having John the Baptist speak out against the rulers of the day; it is clear that God and His people have historically been active in dealing with the government. As mentioned before, God instituted government, God also instituted the family and the church. How strange it would sound if someone told you that you should not be actively involved in your family or your church but rather, all you should do is pray for them! Yet this is the cry of many Christians today when it comes to the government. They see no need to be active in something God instituted. God wants us to be active and involved when it comes to the government because He has a purpose for the government in our life. When it comes to the issue of life we can see how all three of these institutions work together: the family pro-creates life, the church teaches the value of life and the way to eternal life, and the government is to protect the God given right to life. A failure in any of institutions brings great destruction in a society and damages the other two institutions to a point where they often are not nearly as effective in doing their part. We could look at a host of issues where these three institutions work together, but I simply want us to understand the point that God designed each one to work together and He is active in all three therefore we should be active in all three.
Lastly, we can see that it is a clear command from Christ to be involved in government today.
Matthew 20:20-21 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Now, you may be wondering, “How does Matthew 2:20-21 command our involvement in government?” For starters it demands an involvement in the funding of government and lays the principle that all citizens have a responsibility to the government. This responsibility that we have to the government is varied depending on the type of government you live under. It is worth noting that though we have a responsibility to government we have a higher responsibility to God (Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”). The question comes, what is our responsibility to government? Well, in the United States we have a Constitutional Republic, this means that in order for the government to function and to do its job (to punish wickedness and defend the innocent) we must render our vote and we must vote in a godly manner in order for our form of government to be effective. In a Constitutional Republic it is important to understand that the people are Caesar. Therefore, to submit to our government in the way that is mandated in Romans 13 we must be involved. The ultimate form of rebellion to a Constitutional Republic (a government of the people, by the people, and for the people) is for its citizens to be disengaged from the process. For the Christian to obey Matthew 20:20-21 he must at the very minimum vote in a godly manner and pay taxes, but a Christian many times may have to do more than this to obey Christ. A Constitutional Republic is not just a government “for the people”, it is also “by the people” therefore we must make our voice heard, and it is “of the people” therefore we may even be called upon to run for office.
It is not enough for the Christian to simply just pray for the government, we must be actively involved if we are to properly obey the Scriptures.