Influence With Authority

"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." - 1 Timothy 2:1-4
 
Have you ever wondered what your role is as a Christian in relation to government? Have you ever felt like you don’t really have all that much influence in what goes on? Well, I want you to imagine for a moment how much more that was the case for those in the early church living under Roman occupation. Not only did they live under an authoritarian regime, but they weren’t even considered citizens of the empire. In an earthly sense, they had no voice at all.

This created a tension for early Christians. Should they try to overthrow? Should they just go into hiding? The Apostle Paul, recognizing these tensions happening in the church in Ephesus, wrote to their leader, Timothy, to offer a third way: prayer. The early church may not have had a voice with the emperor, but they had an open audience with the King of the Universe. Even though we have more of a voice with our governing authorities than did the early church, our best pathway for influence remains the same.

Paul gave Timothy two primary reasons for praying for those in authority. First, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” While God has faithfully allowed the church to thrive in times of persecution, Paul’s encouragement is to pray for peace for the church. I suspect that the reason for this is not primarily for our own comfort and ease of life, but so that we have freedom to “be the church” as I talked about last week: freedom to love our neighbors; freedom to serve those in need; freedom to form communities of faith under the headship of Christ.

Paul’s second reason flows from the first. We pray for those in authority, because God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” I want to draw two prayer points from this statement. First, we ought to pray that those in authority come to know Christ, that they would encounter and be transformed by his revolutionary love, not only so that they give us policies in our favor, but even more so because they are created and loved by a God who desires to be in restored relationship with them. We ought to pray for them to be reconciled to God through Christ. Second, we ought to pray that God will use those in authority to pave the way for kingdom impact, even if they don’t know they’re doing it. I may not know what conditions are best going to create inroads for the gospel, but God does, and God influences the influencers.

So, I encourage you to pray in these ways, but not just for the president or those in positions of national authority, but also for your local mayor, city council members, school board, and first responders; and for those on the state level: for your governor, state assembly, congressmen and women, etc. Prayer ought not be the last resort for those without any other options, but the primary means by which we intercede on behalf of the lost and for the advancement of the Kingdom.

“God shapes the world by prayer.” — E.M. Bounds

"To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees." - Billy Graham

“It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” — Hudson Taylor

“To desire revival... and at the same time to neglect (personal) prayer and devotion is to wish one way and walk another.” — A.W. Tozer
 
“There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” — D.A.T. Pierson

Sean's Picks

Jon Foreman - Jesus, I Have My Doubts
I have always been drawn to Jon Foreman's lyrics because of their depth and honesty. This new song sounds to me like a lament Psalm (e.g. Psalm 13). If you've ever struggled with doubt, this song is sure to resonate. 

Missions Spotlight:
Shannon Campbell (DiscipleMakers)

Pray for my upcoming transition and marriage! Plans are crazy with COVID-19, but I'm learning to delight in the Lord amidst all the unknowns.

I had shared in my previous newsletter that James & I would be getting married on February 7th, but our date has actually changed to February 6th. We are also no longer getting married in Pennsylvania, but in Florida right by where my family lives! We plan to have an online option so anyone can watch the ceremony, and we'd love to have you "join" us virtually! More info to come.

Click Here For More on Shannon and DiscipleMakers

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