We have been reminded in many ways during the past year of the tragedy of war. We have seen pictures of the poppies at the Tower of London reminding us in a vivid way of the loss of life. Sometimes war even seems to be made less appalling than it really is. War must at all times be seen as a result of the fall into sin and therefore as an evil. I know some wars may have been just wars, but that does not take away from the fact that war itself is evil. War if at all justified must be seen as a necessary evil. As Christians we are called to pray for those in authority over us, The Apostle Paul make this very clear when he says,
2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. (1 Ti 2:1–6).
Notice this is not a nationalistic prayer, there is no place in our praying for a narrow focus on our own nation but rather we are called to pray for all people. Too often we pray as if our nation is the most important one not only to ourselves but to God. This idea subtly betrays itself in comments like “so you have come to visit God’s own country have you?” I know this is a friendly teasing comment but all the same it portrays God as having a favourite country, he does not.
What is interesting is that we are called to pray that we might lead peaceful and holy lives, it is quite obvious from the context that the gospel will spread when there is peace. Most importantly because Christ is the saviour of the world we are to seek the good of all. This means that we are kingdom people before we are citizens of whatever country we live in. If we have to make a choice between kingdom priorities, we must always choose the kingdom of God over that of earthly kingdoms. The mission of the Church is to reach the world with the message of the gospel therefore we should pray for peace. It is because of this that we should pray for those in authority over us. We need to remember that as we pray for these people we need to watch our own heart attitude because it is very easy to take our own political preferences into our prayer lives. Indeeed we must watch that we do not pray from a position of holding a person in contempt, however much we disagree with someone, that person is made in the image of God.
As we pray for peace lets not forget that to the biblical writers the concept of peace i not only the abscence of conflict but rather the presence of blessing and wholeness. So let us pray for our leaders that might be given God’s wisdom and that they might know the grace of God in a real way in their own lives.