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Praying for Our Nation

1 Timothy 2:1-8

Pastor James F. Wright

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
St John Lutheran Church  
Champaign, IL

Sun, Oct 7, 2001 

Text: "I urge then, first of all, that request, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Timothy 2:1

If there was one way you could reach out and change the world to make it a better and safer place to earn a living and raise children, would you be willing to give it a try? If that act had the ability to help the government not only of this country in time of war, but of every other nation in the world, would you devote yourself to this service daily? Add to this the provision that you wouldn't have to leave your family or occupation to help, and that it wouldn't raise the amount you pay in taxes, and that it would assist you to perform your own daily work. With all of this set before you, would anything prevent you from making use of the activity I am describing right now to bring peace to the world and good order?

This activity is not a community action program, a political party, the Red Cross or another charity. It is much more effective than any of these. It is prayer to God, our Heavenly Father, offered in the name of Jesus Christ.

At times the prayers of the church may seem long and dull in their enumeration of all the things for which we pray. Our text provides the reason why we pray together for all people, especially for our government and all in authority over us, the president, congress, governors, and the military. . . that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."

God blesses his people with the ability to change the world for good through prayer because prayer is communication with God Almighty, the world's creator and the world's savior.

In fact, the greatest anti terrorist program we can have in this country is if everyone put into practice the words of Jesus, "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you." This does not mean pacifism, for evil minds can only understand and obey a force greater than themselves. But as Christians, the greatest work we can do is offer prayers, both for those who lead us, and for the evil men who attack us, that God would lead them to turn from their evil and come to the truth. We alone can't change them. Only God has that kind of power.

I. We might ask, why would we care to pray for the government when we may not be pleased with its policies, decisions, and expensive consumption of money? Bear in mind that at the time this letter to Timothy was written, prayer for kings would have included the Roman Emperor Nero, under whom St. Paul and St. Peter would eventually be put to death. Although the Christians of that day had every reason not to honor such a person, Paul urges the Christians to pray for everyone, especially the civil authorities.

So you will also notice, long before this country was attacked and the president told us to go to our churches to pray, the Christian congregation was praying for those in authority that they may carry out their duties with all faithfulness, wisdom and patience, so that we may live under them in peace and quietness.

Our country is in need of prayer right now. We are thankful God has given us strong leaders. We can't imagine the pressure these people are under after these attacks by an unseen enemy. When we offer prayers for them, we are saying that they do not hold office and authority of themselves. They have been placed there by the providential ordering of God's creation. God establishes government to care for his people and prevent the world from destroying itself before the day God has appointed as the end of the world.

Romans chapter thirteen says, "The authorities that exist have been established by God, he who rebels against the authority rebels against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

When we were taught the meaning of the fourth commandment we learned to obey our parents and authorities. Through parents God gives us life, clothing, shelter, and love. Through employers and occupations he gives us livelihood and economy. Through governmental leaders he provides protection, peace, and tranquility so that families and business can flourish.

When we pray for the government we are also praying for ourselves since they are instruments of God's goodness for our benefit. We don't appreciate what God gives us in government. We take it for granted and complain about it a lot. We are undeserving of such a great blessing from God.

I know a person who was pulled over for speeding and got a fat ticket. When the officer was finished, the person thanked him. The officer asked why. He said, "If you hadn't given me this ticket and slowed me down, I might have killed someone, maybe even myself or my family." How many of us think about the laws of our country like this?

As Christians, we live in the tension between the now and the not yet. Christ reigns over us, but we still must submit to our earthly government. We are citizens of America, but at the same time we are citizens of heaven. This is how the Apostle Paul can ask the Church to pray for the king who will one day execute him, and ask us to pray for the government that will not allow Christian values and prayers to be taught in public schools and protects the right of people to kill their own unborn children. We pray for our government that we might see it as part of our daily bread, and that we would receive it with thanksgiving.

II. Many people have been pleased with our president's response to this attack. If you wanted to thank the president with a phone call, I wish you luck in getting through. He's too busy to talk with you now, not to mention the 250 million other citizens who'd like to speak with him. There is, however, someone higher up the ladder who will take your call anytime.

We pray to God for all people, not only because he is the God who creates and preserves everyone, but also because he wants to save all people from the destruction that is to come. In particular, we pray not only that God would give wisdom and guidance to our government, but also that he would bring the whole world to the saving knowledge of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to what he accomplished for all people on the cross, that is, the forgiveness of sins, salvation from death and the devil, and the gift of eternal life.

We pray that all people everywhere might share with us this saving knowledge and join us in heaven. This is really what unites us as human beings--not a bill of rights, a constitution, or a politically correct affirmative action policy, but a life that never ends and a savior who brings it to us.

There is one mediator for us all, Jesus Christ, who goes between God and all of us sinners. He became one of us, and by dying for all people and bringing faith to our hearts to believe it is so, he declares us all to be one. This is good news for everyone.

The gospel for today speaks of a steward who made friends with his clients, using his position for his own good. Jesus calls us to use the abilities we have, whoever we are, for the good of the gospel. And one thing we can all do is to pray.

Now, more than ever, we should all get down to the business of prayer. Devoutly pray the prayer of the church in the divine service. Pray together through the week in your homes. Pray continually for our government, our church, and people in need. Pray also for our enemies, those who hate us, that they may know the love of Christ and be turned from their hatred of people they have never even met.

As Christ died for all people without distinction, let us also pray for all people without distinction. Amen.

Copyright 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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