Home > Faith in Action > Jonah, Judgement, and Praying for the President 4-3-14
“We” (as in “we the people”) are starting an American “election cycle,”  and it won’t have a sense of finality until November, 2016.  “We” (as in “we who walk with God”) should have
lots to discuss with our heavenly Daddy during the interim…but American Christians typically don’t like to pray for people in positions of authority when the represented viewpoint or lifestyle is politically opposed to their own.
I actually find the situation to be a curious one.  Sort of an odd-bedfellows combination of irony and double-mindedness on the part of God’s kids: “we” (in a broad sense, as in, ‘we Christians in general’) are often hesitant to pray for the sick because we are afraid “nothing will happen”… yet we are equally hesitant to pray for presidents, congressmen, mayors, governors, etc., with whom we disagree because we are afraid that something good will happen.

What a dichotomy!  Does that last statement miss the mark?  I submit that the answer is no. I also submit that it was never in God’s heart that we who know Him should either be prayerless towards our leaders, or that any prayer should consist of,  Lord, bless these clearly unrighteous and unholy acts and bless that blaspheming, irreverent person, too. 

 That just isn’t an accurate representation of what Scripture teaches…although I have seen it to be the mindset of those who are appalled at the thought of praying for this-or-that government leader.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity…”  (I Timothy 2:1,2)  One of the clearly-stated “results” of praying for “kings and all who are in authority” is that we benefit….yet the phrase that reveals God’s true heart is stated in the following verse, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  (I Tim. 2:3,4, NASB) People desiring to live tranquil and quiet lives….God softening and drawing the hearts of all men….why isn’t this teaching perceived as a win-win situation so that prayers for our government leaders are constantly before the Throne?

I have a theory.  And it’s best demonstrated at the end of the Book of Jonah.

 Jonah said to God after the repentance of Nineveh, “Please, Lord, is this not what I said while I was still in my own country?  Therefore in order to forestall this, I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and One who relents concerning calamity.  Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”  (Jonah 4:2, NASB)
I have always found that to be an astonishing verse….Jonah’s dislike and distaste for the Ninevites was so strong that he would rather be dead, himself, than see a repentant city thrive through the generosity of God. The generosity of Jonah’s God.  The generosity of the God of the universe.  The Sovereign God of Nineveh, even while they did not recognize Him as such.  The many sermons I have heard about Jonah have focused on Jonah’s disobedience to the task set before him and how God was able to coerce a stubborn, non-compliant person to carry it out, nonetheless  – come fish or high water!  But I have gained a new perspective, and this new perspective relates to the “why” Jesus’ current-day disciples should  seriously consider and take action on their calling to pray for “kings and all who are in authority.”
Only part of Jonah’s plight revolved around Nineveh.  God was also givingJonah the opportunity to repent  – to repent of a cold and loveless heart which wholeheartedly did not want the generous and tender salvation of God to come upon those that Jonah perceived as enemies.
Are we guilty of making the mistake that Jonah made?  Jesus asked of His followers, “…if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?…if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?…”  (Matt. 5:46,47)
 Jesus’ disciples early in His ministry faced a similar dilemma.  When charged with making preparations for Jesus in a Samaritan village, Luke records, “…But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.  When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?'”  Jesus’ response, of course, was to “rebuke them” and say, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”  (Luke 9:53-56, NASB)
It is an apt question for us, today…indeed, “what kind of spirit” are we of?  And which “kind of spirit” do we embody, project,…which spirit leads us to the lens through which we see our prayer calling, our prayer opportunity to impact the world around us…