The presidential election is over, and we now have a president-elect, but the work has really just begun. The years ahead could easily produce anxiety, greater division and frustration. We’ve seen the questions: Will our country survive? Will my candidate be elected? Will one or the other political party destroy America?
The results mean good news for some, and bad news for others. It’s good to be involved and even concerned about the political climate of our country. As Christians, this burden for the nation should lead us from angst to prayer.
The Apostle Paul instructed the church to pray for leaders:
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
In this passage, there is a clear calling for Christians to pray for kings and all people in high positions. Notice that Paul doesn’t qualify his statement with “if only those leaders are [fill in the blank].” That means we pray for our president and all governing officials regardless of their political ideology or conviction.
To a world that is screaming at one another, our prayers display the unique peace that the Gospel brings in the heart of believers, so we might be able to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (v. 2b). God’s desire is for all people—from the lowest ranks to the highest—to be saved (v. 4). Ultimately, our prayers are about Jesus and pleading that those who do not know him would come to a knowledge of our great Savior.
Here are five ways you and I might pray for our president-elect:
Pray for wisdom and understanding: Pray that our president will understand the implications of each decision made, each conversation and all policy negotiations. Pray for wisdom for major decisions like the Supreme Court nominees and other potential groundbreaking decisions that have the ability to change the shape of our nation for years to come.
Pray for self-control and a heart of service: Pray that the president would be self-controlled and sober-minded. Pray that the president would not make rash decisions and will seek good counsel. Pray for humility and a desire to work and serve for the good of others and this country, and not for selfish gain.
Pray for protection: Pray that the president would be protected from evil and from doing evil deeds. Pray also for protection from enemies. Pray for the president’s health and general safety.
Pray for courage: There will be days ahead when our president must stand firm and have courage in the face of adversity. Let’s pray that the president will be courageous in seeking to serve the nation.
Pray for the president’s salvation: Ultimately, as the text above shared, we want to pray for the salvation of all people, including our leaders. Pray that our leaders, including our president, would truly know Jesus. Pray that God would capture their hearts and Jesus would reign. Pray for humility to repent of sin and turn to the bread of life.
There is no authority beyond and above God. Rulers may think they are in charge, but as Christians, we know that apart from God, nothing could happen. He doesn’t take direction from our president; God alone is in control and isn’t worried about election results. He came up with the idea of government and asks us to trust him with it. For we know, “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God” (Romans 13:1b).
We see God’s power throughout all of Scripture, and we join Isaiah in this proclamation:
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not considered the foundations of the earth? God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He reduces princes to nothing and makes judges of the earth irrational" (Isaiah 40:21-23).
Our government will never live up to what it should. Our presidents will never be completely who they should be. But we can rest and trust in God now—there’s an eternal future awaiting us. Jesus is coming back, and nations will not stand in his way (Revelation 9:11, 15-16). We will not always need to submit to governing authorities led by sinful men and women, who, just like us, are in need of God’s grace. Until the day of Jesus’ return, we continue to pray and rest in God because we know he is ruling, and we have a beautiful inheritance awaiting us.
Trillia Newbell is the Director of Community Outreach for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column first appeared on the ERLC's website at erlc.com.