It’s election time here in Canada! October 21, 2019 will be the day when Canadians choose their new Member of Parliament and so we find ourselves in the midst of another election campaign. As Christians we have an important responsibility given to us in Scripture to “pray for all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Offering prayers on behalf of our government leaders is something that we are supposed to do on a regular basis; however, it is especially important when the country is poised to decide who will form the next government.
House of Prayer Edmonton is very excited to host a special extended prayer gathering called The Assembly, to pray for Canada during the campaign leading toward the election. The Assembly is an event during which there will be continual, unceasing prayer for six days, from October 7-12, 2019. This powerful time of prayer will consist of different teams from local churches providing leadership in 2-hour blocks. We currently have nearly 35 Christian churches involved from various denominations and backgrounds. We believe that it is an important time for this expression of Christian unity in the Edmonton Capital Region, and to gather together in prayer.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth...I want the people everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4,8)
When Paul wrote to Timothy, it was almost certainly during the reign of Nero as the Roman emperor, and that is significant because Nero was absolutely not a Christian! In fact, Nero was much more of an enemy of the early Christians. Thus, when Timothy initially read this instruction, he would have thought of it as a specific application of Jesus’ teaching: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44).
Here in Canada we are blessed to live in a prosperous and free society, where we are able to participate in the choosing of those who will govern us. This is a profound privilege that we can easily take for granted. However, many people have, understandably, grown cynical toward both politicians and the political process as a whole. The problem with such a cynical attitude is that it simply is not a biblical value! Nowhere in Scripture are we exhorted to become cynical in our attitude; rather we are continually called to be men and women of faith, who believe and proclaim that with God, all things are possible!
It must be from a heart of faith that we pray together for Canada and for those who would govern us. As we pray for government, here are a few suggestions about how to start, based on the teaching of 1 Timothy 2.
First, it is important for us to pray with thanksgiving for those who are participating in the electoral process, and to do so for all people, not only those who we like or agree with. Let’s be honest: it is much easier to thank God for leaders we agree with than for those who we disagree with. We live in an increasingly divided world where people often disagree with each other quite passionately around political topics. Politicians on all sides of the spectrum are frequently demonized for their viewpoints and ideas. One of the most powerful antidotes in this toxic environment is the practice of thanksgiving! As Christians we must actively choose a better way, the way of thanksgiving, in the face of the constant barrage of criticism and vitriol that has become so common in our political dialogue.
Second, it is important that we pray and intercede for the salvation of those who would rule and govern us. Paul says very clearly that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”, and he continues on to state that salvation comes expressly through Jesus Christ. Again, it is important for us to consider that Paul was writing this about emperor Nero, who was so violent and cruel toward the early Christians. Many times I have heard Christians pray passionately for the political leaders whom they agree with or whose policies they like; far less often do I hear prayers for the lives of politicians whom they dislike and disagree with; God, however, loves them all and desires that leaders on all sides of the political spectrum be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.
Third, we must pray together in unity, regardless of our different political opinions and perspectives. I believe that this is especially important for us as we pray leading up to the 2019 federal election, because there are such deep political divisions in our society today. Paul teaches that we are to “pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing”. In Paul’s day and in ours, politics is a challenging topic or theme for a prayer meeting! How will we pray with other Christians who have different political views?
In the context of corporate prayer, I want to caution us against praying what some refer to as ‘balancing prayers’. These are prayers that seek to express different and usually corrective views towards others in a prayer gathering. Perhaps someone prays something that another person disagrees with and that person begins to speak out their own prayer that ‘balances’ out the perspective that they disagreed with. Usually those prayers are really spoken more to the other people in the room than to God, and can undermine unity and weaken the entire prayer meeting.
In closing, I would like to offer four additional specific ways that we can pray, either individually or in groups, for our leaders and our country in the midst of this 2019 federal election. These are inspired by the writings of Tertulian, one of the early Church fathers from around 200 AD.
We ought to pray for our leaders to have wisdom from God, to rule and govern well
We ought to pray for stable government, and for leaders to get along with each other
We ought to pray for the families of those who govern us, because they bear a great deal of stress that comes with public, political life
We ought to pray for peace within the lives of our leaders, within our government and within Canada as a nation
On behalf of House of Prayer Edmonton, I would like to issue a call to you to ensure that you pray for “all those in authority” during this important election season, and to invite you to join us at The Assembly.
Executive Director, House of Prayer Edmonton