As I’ve been thinking about the Canadian federal election coming up in just two weeks, I’ve also been following discussions south of the border on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump and on choosing the next Democratic presidential candidate. I’ve been following the news of ongoing protests in Hong Kong, the Global Climate Strike, and much more.
Given all that’s happening on the political scene in Canada and around the world, I’ve also been wondering how best to pray for government leaders. After all, Scripture urges us to pray for everyone, including kings and others who have authority:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
– 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Psalm 72 offers one example of praying for the king:
Give your love of justice to the king, O God,
and righteousness to the king’s son.
Help him judge your people in the right way;
let the poor always be treated fairly.
May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass,
like the showers that water the earth.
– Psalm 72:1-2, 6
In his commentary on the Psalms, James H. Waltner says:
We can apply this prayer for the king’s just rule to government leaders in every generation. . . . The psalm is supportive of good government, but also nudges rulers to know their job description before God.
– James H. Waltner, Psalms (Herald Press, 2006, page 353)
As in Psalm 72’s prayer for the king, praying for government leaders today means praying for justice, praying for the poor to be treated fairly, praying for the actions of government leaders to bring refreshment. What a contrast to the polarization, injustice, hypocrisy, and scandal that often seem to dominate the political landscape.
Below are ten prayers that I’ve found helpful on how to pray for government leaders. In each case I’ve selected just a brief excerpt with the heading linked to the full prayer, so please click through to the original. At the end of this article, I’ve also posted links to the rest of my How to Pray series.
So as you follow the news, as you discuss, as you vote, as you take action, whatever candidate or party you support, let us pray for leaders with justice, compassion, and integrity who will serve wisely and well.
Praying Before and After an Election
by Carole Penner
Guide the candidates to campaign fairly and present their viewpoints honestly.
Guide the voters as they listen and assess the positions of the different parties.
Jesus, you cared for those who were poor, physically challenged, social outcasts.
Empower us to hear and take into account the voices of the marginalized.
We pray this day for our new government
that it will help us live in peace with each other.
Give our politicians keen hearing to hear the cries of the poor.
Give our politicians sharp vision to see the long-term effect of policies.
Give our politicians plain speech to speak the truth.
Give our politicians clean hands to withstand corruption.
Give our politicians honest hearts that are eager to right injustice.
based on Psalm 72
give Your love of justice to those who rule our land.
Help them to rule with wisdom and compassion,
so that the poor and powerless may be treated fairly and with justice.
by Samantha Urban Tarrant
May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead with honesty and integrity.
by Joan Chittister
Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.
Prayers of the People by Nick Fawcett, adapted by Rev. I. Scott McCarthy
We pray for those in authority in other lands,
leaders of nations large and small,
super-powers and tiny states,
shaping the lives of millions or relatively few.
Grant them also the guidance and the gifts they need
to govern wisely,
that they may work for the good of all their people,
and strive to promote justice,
freedom of speech and opportunity,
inner harmony and international peace.
from the Mission of St. Clare
O Lord our Governor,
bless the leaders of our land,
that we may be a people at peace among ourselves
and a blessing to other nations of the earth.
Lord, keep this nation under your care.
by Leslie Weatherhead
We lift up our hearts, O Lord,
in intercession for all who carry civic and political responsibilities.
Grant that, putting aside all merely selfish ambition,
they may seek to be the instruments of your will
and carry out your purpose for the welfare of your people.
by John R.W. Stott
Give to our leaders soundness of judgement
and courage of decision,
and unite us all in a common zeal to honour you and serve others,
by Michael Saward
Lord of the universe and leader of your people,
give wisdom to all those who exercise authority.
Teach them to put the good of the many before the greed of the few.
Help them to love truth and to hate falsehood and corruption.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What have you found helpful in praying for government leaders?
More links in my How to Pray series:
For more on everyday acts of faith,