by Reverend Anne Hibbard, National Coordinator, Uniting Prayer and Fasting, Secretary, Assembly of Confessing Congregations of the Uniting Church
To pray for leaders who promote peace, godliness and freedom for the gospel to spread.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”—1 Timothy 2:1-4
On Saturday the 18th May, Australia will elect the next party and Prime Minister to govern this nation of ours. Why should we as Christians pray together during these 21 days? In the pastoral epistles, Paul encourages Timothy about the importance of praying not only for all people but especially for kings and those in authority. We do not have a King, but we do have a Prime Minister, senators and members of parliament. It is our responsibility to pray for them, and for God’s choice of those who would seek election or re-election at this important time.
Paul gives Timothy three reasons for why we should pray for our civic leaders and what we should pray. Firstly, we pray for them so that we may live “peaceful and quiet lives”. These two words in the Greek are synonyms. Éremos (peaceful) and hēsúchios (quiet) can also mean placid, quiet, composed, tranquil, peaceful, still, and undisturbed. We pray for our leaders so our whole nation can guard the precious peace we do have and encourage even more.
Anyone who has worked in a firm, school or hospital, knows the difference a leader can make who is a peace-maker. Tranquillity can permeate the whole of the organisation. This is also true of a country. We are living in significantly disturbed times on a global level with many forces at work to bring instability, conflict and chaos. Our Australian leaders can, without realising, move with these forces bringing more strife—or through prayer and God’s help they can be agents of true peace.
Secondly, Paul says that we are to live peaceful and godly lives in all “godliness and holiness”. The Greek word eusébeia or godliness can be applicable to Christians and non-Christians alike. Basically, it is having attitudes and manner of life pleasing to God. This includes having godly standards of sexuality and marriage for our nation but also caring about justice and mercy. As Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”.
We are to pray that the Lord would raise up godly leaders who care about the murder of unborn babies; children being indoctrinated by ungodly ideologies; refugees being turned away who seek mercy and a new home; and Australian Indigenous people being refused even a measure of self-determination. This must be tempered with “holiness” or semnótētos, which also means dignity and respect. It has a sense of finding a balance between making no effort to please anybody and “endeavouring at all costs to please everybody” (CWSB Dictionary).
Thirdly, our primary reason for praying for our national leaders is because the Lord “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”. Paul was speaking to Timothy who lived in a very pluralist society, and yet he told him clearly that there is only “one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
We pray for leaders who will guard freedom of speech and religion so that this good news can be shared without fear of punishment. How can Australians hear, believe and be saved unless Christians be allowed to speak to them? (Romans 10:13-14) We have seen with concern, society’s recent attempt at disciplining Israel Folau for quoting scripture. This will increase in Australia, as it has in other countries, unless we pray for our leaders at this important time.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you have given us the great privilege of praying throughout these 21 days in the lead-up to the coming election. We pray that you would raise up leaders who will guard the peace of Australia; encourage our nation to live in all godliness and holiness; and who will protect freedom of religion so that all people might be able to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and be saved. We pray all of this in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Election Prayer Points
- Pray that God would rule over this election – that righteous leaders would be elected to govern this nation in truth and justice because, “When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice”. Proverbs 29:2
- Pray God’s blessing upon all our current parliamentarians and leaders, including their families and all the candidates of all the parties standing for this federal election. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
- Pray for a multiplication of prayer and unity across the Body of Christ in Australia that people will wake up to the dangers facing our nation and respond in prayer. Ephesians 5:14
- Pray for a Spiritual Awakening for Australia, Revival and Transformation for our nation and the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16
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