Every four years our nation celebrates the inauguration of a new president. The occasion is always marked by ceremony, pomp, and circumstance, as power is transferred to or reinvested in America’s commander in chief. For Christians, bearing witness to another inauguration is a unique reminder of our duty to pray for those in authority. One place that command is found in the Scriptures is 1 Timothy 2:1-4, where Paul provides the following instructions:
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, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
One of the benefits of this passage is its clarity. Here Paul tells us not only that we are to pray for those in authority, but how we should do so. As we commemorate this day, here are four specific ways to pray based on Paul’s words from this passage.
1. Pray for our country
Paul is clear that we are to pray “for all people.” As citizens of this country, we should take this opportunity to pray for our neighbors and fellow citizens. We can ask for God’s blessings upon those we live alongside. We can pray for God to grant them wisdom and success in every good endeavor. We can pray for their health and safety. And we can thank God for the privilege of living together in this republic.
2. Pray for our new president
Paul tells us to pray for those “in high positions.” In our country, there is no higher office than the presidency. And with a new president comes a host of new leaders in the apparatus of government. We should pray for God to grant President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and those in their administration the wisdom to enact just policies that lead to human flourishing. We should pray for God to bless their efforts to accomplish the work of government in all the ways that are pleasing to him, and we should pray that God would stay their hands from actions or policies that do not align to his will.
3. Pray for our peace
Paul tells us that we are to offer these prayers so “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life.” The reason for this is simple, government is necessary to order our common life. Its primary task is to promote peace and justice (Rom. 13). We can pray today that these incoming leaders will lead well, that they will preserve domestic peace, and that our nation and our world will enjoy greater peace in the days and years ahead. In our polarized and fractious country, we should all desire peace, not only in the policy realm, but at the family and community level as well.
4. Pray for our lost neighbors
As we pray for our new leaders, as well as our nation and our neighbors, we must remember that our goal is their salvation. God “desires all people to be saved.” Paul recognized that a good and just government allows more freedom for the church to do its work of bearing witness to the gospel. We should pray that over the next four years, our churches would be free to minister and to point the way to Jesus. More than anything else, our neighbors and our world need the hope of the gospel.
Rob Carr / Staff