God provides many Scriptures for us to consider as we seek to obey Paul’s words from 2 Timothy 2:2 and pray for the authorities God places over us. I will share a few passages here and link to a video that we shot last week modeling how to pray toward this end (1 Peter 5:3). I think the video is helpful for a number of reasons.
First, the video shows just how “otherly” Christians should be when compared to the world around them. We live in a binary culture, but the Bible calls us to wisdom. There is a complexity and wisdom that should accompany the Christian life. Praying for, honoring, and respecting first responders is not at odds with calling for reform, speaking to sin, or lamenting injustice. Wisdom is often displayed in not choosing one or the other when Christians are called to both. We shouldn’t lament well on one side while demonizing the police and first responders on the other, nor should we honor, respect, and pray for our authorities on one side while turning a blind eye towards sin and injustice on the other. God calls us to a third way that rubs both overly general sides the wrong way. I think this video is a good example of that when set in the context of our church’s messaging over the last several weeks.
Secondly, I am sure, with seven brothers in Christ on one call, there is a myriad of different opinions on major cultural issues. Such issues may include the nature and extent of racism in America, the scope of policing reform, or the root causes of societal ills. On some of these things there may be major agreement, but on some things, there may be disagreement. The point is, in either case, we can come together united by the Scripture and pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The Bible gives us truth that we must unify over. Examples of unifying biblical truth abound such as the image of God in all people (Genesis 1:27), the reality of the sin of racism (Galatians 3:28), and the reality of the oppression of the poor (Proverbs 29:13). But disagreement over how all this works out in society, and the actions a Christian should take, is inevitable. The church must remember now, and all the way through November and beyond, that we are not called to agree on every single way Biblical truth works out or should work out into policy and cultural norms. We are, however, called to a deep, glorious, world confounding unity in the Gospel (John 17:21). We are brothers and sisters in Christ with one King and one text.
Thirdly, our pastors model a beneficial prayer habit on this call; they drip their prayers with the Word of God. How do you pray when you don’t know how to pray? It is as simple as this: open the Bible and renew your mind before praying (Romans 12:1-2). When facing sorrow, the Psalms are helpful. When facing a tough decision, the Proverbs and James are both helpful. When we feel accused because of personal sin and failure, Romans is helpful. I think we could literally name every experience or emotion a Christian faces and go to multiple places in the Bible for help forming prayers. The same God who authored the Bible created the human heart. The Bible is the ultimate resource for prayer.
Finally, prayer moves the hand that moves the world. We know that the prayers of God’s people change things in this world (James 5:16). We lift up our first responders to God because he is the only one who can save them, give them an outstanding testimony, protect them, guide them, and give them wisdom and patience. He is the only one that can help them not weary in doing good, instill encouragement in their souls, and help them judge fairly. So, we pray for God to move on their behalf.