Today is the National Day of Prayer, an American tradition that ADF has successfully defended against lawsuits from groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Every year since 1952, the president has designated a day to offer up prayer to God on behalf our nation. On this day, people are gathering at hundreds of events throughout the nation to join together in prayer.
Why do Christians place so much emphasis on prayer?
Prayer helps us to abide in Christ by cultivating love and trust in him. In love, we offer prayers of thanksgiving, and we recall that, as the Bride of Christ, our affections should be for our Bridegroom. And in trust, we release our ironclad grip on life and confess our sins, acknowledging our neediness and frailty. We likewise offer prayers of trust when we sing hymns like “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.”
Why should we pray for our government?
Many of us have little trust or love in government, but our love and trust in God should compel us to pray for the government he has ordained. In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that the civil magistrate “is God’s servant for your good.” Government can, however, shirk its task or exceed its sphere of authority if it yields to licentiousness or tyranny.
In denying religious freedom to Blaine Adamson and Jack Phillips, for example, the government has demanded that our clients render to Caesar what rightly belongs to God.
So we must pray that our leaders wisely discern how to balance liberty and the common good. And when government oversteps its bounds, as it has in Blaine and Jack’s cases, we must pray that the judiciary would administer justice.
How, then, should we pray for our government?
I think it is good to pray specific prayers that name places, people, and desired outcomes. This helps us establish solidarity and love for those in authority, and we learn to ask great things of God. Additionally, we should recognize that Christians across the centuries have developed prayers for our leaders in government. The majestic prose of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, used in many conservative Anglican churches, provides guidance. Here is one poignant passage as modified to reference America’s current head of state:
“O Lord, our Governor, whose glory is in all the world; we commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to President Donald Trump, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.”