Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To pray on behalf of...

kw: intercession

A friend helped me understand a Bible passage I have had difficulty carrying out. It is 1 Timothy 2:1-2
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (NIV 1984)
 My conundrum? How to "pray for" a President with whom I disagree about everything, a congress (both houses) that seems bent on destroying everything that makes this nation great and good, and officials whose chief interest is lining their own pockets at public expense? My friend said, simply, that the word "for" in this passage is better translated "on behalf of". At first, that seems the same. Then I understood.

To intercede on behalf of someone is to pray what he or she would pray, if they only would, or could. I had earlier come to partial terms with these verses, by praying that no matter what this or that "authority" desired, God would have His way, according to His purpose. This is good, but not good enough. I see now the need to pray the way Lincoln was said to pray at every turn, for the guidance to lead aright and the wisdom to carry out the right and good; to pray what our leaders, whoever they may be, and whatever they may believe, ought to pray: for insight, wisdom, strength and mercy in God's sight; to see what is right and to choose the right.

This is not to pray about this or that kind of policy. Policy is tactical, for carrying out strategic goals. This is to pray that the strategy would be right and even Godly, perhaps without any of them realizing God is behind it. This is to pray as though you were the President, or the Speaker, or any other office holder, and pray as God leads you to pray on their behalf, to pray what they are not praying. In most cases, they are not praying at all anyway. Let all who are praying people, raise up the standard of our prayer, and pray the neglected prayers of our public officials.

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