Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. (1 Timothy 2:1–3–8—NIV)

The politics of lostness is particularly striking to every genuine believer during the election season. Americans are blessed above all the peoples of this earth because of our constitution, bill of rights, and historical heritage. But, remember freedom’s reality: Providential blessing is always coupled with Providential obligation. This reality is easily forgotten by the irreligious or the nominal Christian to whom politics becomes a bother. Despite the distasteful duty of political debate and rhetoric, Christians are obligated to engage and pray, and not just during the election cycle.

The fact that Paul wrote these words during the tenure of a caesar known for his inhuman cruelty must not be lost upon us in our day. Paul did not enjoy the rights with which we are blessed, but he utilized the greatest tool of change—prayer.

The context of Paul’s challenge to pray regards the believer’s obligation to be concerned for the salvation of the lost. When it comes to party politics of greed and nuance, the lost politician and the lost populace tend to ignore the very root of the problems. Men are blind in their lostness and need to be changed from within by being born again. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator and Ransom for man. Lost men look for their "savior" in people, promises, or programs. The believer looks in a different direction.

First, look at prayer’s broad quality. Paul describes it as

  • Supplication—communication arising out of need or lack, this is petitionally,
  • Prayers—signifying more formal audience with God, this is missionally,
  • Intercessions—drawing near in more intimate conversing, this is personally, and
  • Giving of thanks—elevates the dignity of every human life as grace from the Creator deserving prayer as long as God gives breath, this is thankfully. The beauty of Paul’s exhortation to pray is the glory of the church. The people of God are called to seek personal audience with God over every incidence and evidence of lostness they encounter, in the lives above and around them, pursuing God’s intervention with a thankful heart.

Second, Paul presses the obligation upon the believer to include kings and those in authority. Those in authority are those who have prominence and are eminently placed. This has to do with anyone "over" you, whether at home, at work, or in government. The believer’s first task is to intercede for the salvation of those who hold authority over us regardless of either the rancor or the regard we hold for their policy and worldview.

Third, the purpose of such salvation minded praying is to affect the cultural climate of government and its citizens. Such fervent, intercessory prayer is with a vision to pursue life quietly (external tranquility) and peaceably (internal tranquility) with freedom to pursue godliness (private and public piety) and reverence (dignity that arises from moral elevation and thereby inviting reverence). These are the limits and the responsibilities which God assigns to government and for which all authority will give account. Governance among men is to protect the good and defeat the evil (Romans 13:1–7)

Doesn’t this sound like a pretty reasonable prescription to enfranchise every citizen, restore conscience to politics and install even-handed mission to good government? A changed and anchored society for the good cannot and will not come without changed hearts. Believers hold the key to change. Pray fervently, and be salt and light in the world where God has planted you. Trust and obey.