At the time of this writing the winner in the presidential election has not been officially declared.

Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump, what do all these presidents have in common? It is that I prayed for the welfare and leadership of each. Did I liked them all? By no means. What will President Biden or Trump have in common with them? It is that I will pray for whomever wins.

In this transitional time we need to keep one thing in mind. Disappointed followers of the defeated candidate must realize their candidate is not going to be president, but God is still God, and there is no indication He is about to be up for a vote or abdicate His throne.

It is hard to find a paragon of virtue among those presidents listed here, but we survived them all.

When Christians speaks of praying for a leader, not of their liking, it is assumed by some that they are praying the worst for them, even death. Let me tell you what I pray, according to Scripture, for such a one. It is found in the Bible book of 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2: 1-4).

Love for opponents is the pinnacle of obedience to God.

The instruction is to pray for “all men.” There is no loophole allowing for not praying, even for the unpopular.

At a time Christians were being persecuted the early church leader Tertullian explained: “We pray for all the emperors, that God may grant them long life, a secure government, a prosperous family, vigorous troops, a faithful senate, an obedient people; that the whole world may be in peace; and that God may grant, both to Caesar and to every man, the accomplishment of their just desires.” Note, not all their desires, but all of their “just desires.”

A reason is given, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (Vs.3) It is what God instructs us to do; it is acceptable to Him.

The text gives a second reason for praying for leaders as being that they may “...be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (Vs. 4) If they come to “the knowledge of truth” they will govern according to God’s will. If God and secular society expect believers to pray for all in authority it is reasonable that we pray all that Scripture instructs us to pray regarding them. That is not bigotry, it is obedience.

It is foolish not to pray for leaders, because as their followers we are really praying for our own benefit.

We should not abandon those leaders with whom we disagree, we must pray for them. I am not going to pray once according to this text, but many times during their administration. I always have, and I always will, in the good times and the bad, “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (Vs. 2).

As a post script, I am going to apply this principle to all national and local elected officials.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

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