Actions and decisions made by people in authority create a significant impact on those within their sphere of influence- both good and bad. Think of a business owner who leads with integrity and excellence, as opposed to one who cuts corners, breaks laws, and routinely passes blame. Think of a father who loves, supports, and wisely trains his children, compared with one who ignores or abuses them. Think of biblical examples like Moses and Aaron, the leaders of Ancient Israel, whose different ways of responding to God at Mount Sinai resulted in the Ten Commandments on one hand and a golden calf on the other. Our authorities can either help us in doing the will of God or they can make it harder for us to pursue.
Since the influence of people in these positions can cause such a ripple effect, and because and because their various roles are fraught with hard choices and difficulty, the Bible commands us to pray for all those in leadership over us.
Prayers for their salvation, for their ability to lead or govern, for their commitment to the highest standards and priorities, both professionally and personally.
But while each of us, in one way or another, answers to authorities higher than ourselves- supervisors, parents, officials, law enforcement- most of us also represent some kind of authority over others: children, employees, students, anyone who looks to us for guidance, direction, and instruction, So this biblical command of prayer equally applies to these relationships as well – prayers for both them and for ourselves, that we who ‘keep watch over their souls” will take responsibility seriously and perform it with great care and honor, knowing we will give an account for how we handle the job.
We tend to think of authority in terms of organizational charts and the ordinary tasks of each day. But it’s more importantly a God-ordained arrangement. “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” So prayer creates a revolutionary spin on the natural tendency to resist or resent authority. God’s call for us is to realize that unless they are asking us to sin our obeying of authority (in all other situations) is actually obeying Him. And by praying for those in authority we are working in the best interest of everyone.
Authority basically orbits around the four centers of activity: family, church, government, and employment. In our families, for instance, children should be praying for their parents; parents for their children; wives for their husbands; husbands for their wives. This is all part of how God works within a family both to bless its individual members and to make it a force of kingdom influence. Families operate best when following God’s design.
The proper ordering of authority within the home, combined with prayer for one another, strengthens every ligament of relationship while leading each person to see themselves as ultimately submitted to the Lord. Caring and helping one another. Praying for one another. All out of obedience to Him.
In the church we’re not only called to submit our pastors and leadership but also to steadily pray for them, praying for the hearts and their submission to Christ so that we and others can imitate their faith and example. What a change from the all too typical dislike and disapproval of church leaders, whispered and overheard in homes and back hallways. Our love and support of them is meant to make their work a joy, which in turn blesses the entire church and its ability to stay focused on its true calling.
But like Jesus did for his disciples and like Paul did for the churches, even so pastors, too, should be praying for their people, feeling a burden of concern for them. They must recognize the gravity of their authoritative role in teaching people faithfully, guarding their hearts, and leading them well under the lordship of Christ, who is the “head of the body” – the one who takes “first place in everything”.
In government, as well as in the workplace, the same sort of praying applies. Be faithfully praying for your country’s top leaders and elected officials, even those whose views differ from yours, knowing their leadership touches the lives of many people under their jurisdiction. God still uses imperfect authorities to carry out His perfect purposes. The Lord, of course, is able to turn the heart of a ruler and our impassioned prayers and petitions are part of how He does it.
Pray also for your boss and management at work. Like all those in authority, they are charged with these four overarching responsibilities, among other things 1. Providing direction, instruction, and an example to follow. 2. Protect with boundaries and rules. 3. Praise those who do right and 4. Punish those who do wrong. Let these areas of influence guide your praying. You might even add a fifth- pointing others to Christ – because any leader in any job, in dedicating his or her position to God, can be used as a force of spiritual change, both in the lives of the individuals as well as the culture at large.
Prayer and authority are a powerful combination. Prayers targeted upward in support of those who lead us, as well as prayers targeted downward for those under our care.
Ultimately, Christ is the reason all things were created, “both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for him.” So even in praying for people in our offices, schools, and other everyday settings, we are living out a holy calling. It is both highly practical and exceedingly eternal. God is honored by this kind of praying. And because of it, His will is more readily and pervasively done.
“Father I acknowledge that all authority is from You and that all of my authorities only have power because of You. I choose to pray for the biblical, governmental, family, employment authorities You have placed over my life as a demonstration of my submission to you. Please draw them to salvation and give them a fear of the Lord in all their decisions. Use them to guide, protect, praise, and discipline me in order that I might do your will even as I do the same for those under my authority. Use me to be a blessing. Grant me favor so I can daily help people live out their full potential under Your total authority and Lordship.”
Thanks for listening!