In I Timothy 2:1-3 we read, “First of all, then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”
As we studied in Philippians some weeks ago we Christians are citizens of two worlds. Because of our heavenly citizenship we are better human citizens, better neighbors, better parents and better children. As Jesus said in His high priestly prayer in John 17 we are in the world but we are not of the world. Because of this we do our best to show pride in being good Americans and good citizens of our state and city.
With this in mind the best argument for and against Christianity is Christianity—or more precisely how we Christians practice our Christianity. Christianity lived out can make inroads where few other things can. Paul tells Timothy that we are to pray for the government so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life. One reason to pray for our government then is that a peaceful society is a good society. These verses in Timothy show us the proper relationship between church and state: not separation, but partnership.
John Stott in his book Guard the Truth says, “It is the duty of the state to keep the peace, to protect its citizens from whatever would disturb it, to preserve law and order, and to punish evil and promote good, so that within such a stable society the church may be free to worship God, obey His laws and spread His gospel. Conversely, it is the duty of the church to pray for the state, so that its leaders may administer justice and pursue peace, and to add to its intercession thanksgiving, especially for the blessings of good government as a gift of God’s common grace.”
When the state protects the church the church prays for the state and everyone lives in peace. Although the church does not enjoy the favor in America that it once did we can still thank God for our religious liberty and pray for its preservation. We can see examples of how the church has prayed and seen God work powerfully.
Kent Hughes said, “Prayer brought down the Berlin wall. It May 1889 at Leipzig, in the historic Nicolai Kirche (St. Nicholas Church) where the Reformation had been introduced exactly 450 years earlier, a small group begin to meet in one of the church’s rooms to read the Sermon on the Mount and pray for peace. The group expanded and moved to a larger room and finally began to meet in the church’s nave, which begin to fill up. Alarmed, the Communist authorities sent officials to attend. They threatened the gatherers and temporarily jailed some. On prayer nights they blocked the city’s nearest Autobahn off ramp. Then on October 9, 1989, some 2000 individuals crowded in to pray for peace, and another 10,000 gathered outside. And soon the Berlin wall came down. Coincidence? No. This was the kind response of a caring, all- powerful God to the prayers of His people.”
During this COVID-19 some governors have stopped Christians from gathering to worship. It is hard to understand how they can allow citizens to go to Cosco or Wal Mart where there are hundreds of people and yet will not allow Christians to gather in their places of worship.
What do we do? We pray! We pray with unified passion and focus. We pray that mighty walls of unbelief would fall and that our personal witness would penetrate strongholds with incredible power. Sometimes this is hard when we feel cynicism toward the government. We may well conclude that we are not always diligent in prayer for people in authority. However, John Chrysostom said, “No one can feel hatred towards those for whom he prays.”
Let us remember this as we pray for those in authority over us to make wise decisions not only for our nation but for the Church.