June 2005


In Anticipation of the Fourth of July

I want to encourage you to use the month of June to prepare for this coming Fourth of July by exhorting you to pray for our leaders for the next four weeks. The following is meant to foster this kind of prayer.

Our Nation's annual July 4th celebration is certainly one in which we as Christians can wholeheartedly participate. No nation has granted greater longstanding freedom to the Lord's Church as the United States. While believers around the world are suffering great persecution, while many are being put to death or thrown in prison for their faith, we are free. We are presently able to read the Word, preach the Word, distribute tracts, witness and gather together for worship without the threat of harm.

As we celebrate this noble holiday, we must praise God for this precious freedom. We must also continue to pray that our religious liberties will not be taken away. The Apostle Paul commands the Church to pray for their political leaders in 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

First of all, then, I urge that 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 life in all godliness and dignity.

Most, if not all Christians pray for their unsaved friends and family members, but Paul's instruction is for the believer to broaden his prayer concerns. We are to pray for all mankind, including kings,

and all who are in authority over us. If this command is carried out, no man is left without intercession. We cannot pray too widely. In verse 2, Paul explains that great spiritual benefit is gained when believers pray for those who are in authority over them - "so that we may lead a tranquil life." The word "tranquil" places the emphasis on the absence of outside disturbances. "Quiet" puts the focus on the absence of internal disturbances.

Here Paul indicates that we are to pray for our political leaders so that under their protection we may be spared the hostility which naturally is directed by fallen men against genuine Christianity.

Interestingly, Nero was the Emperor of the Roman Empire when Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesian Church. He was a vile persecutor of the Christian faith and the one who put both Paul and Peter to death.

We then are to pray for our rulers no matter how unreasonable they are. Since Christians must be subject to rulers who may persecute them, prayer is necessary to overrule them. In this way we may be spared troubles without any distress within.

This was the priority of the early Christian church which faced great peril of persecution at the hand of the Roman Empire. Tertulian, an early Church father, urged the local churches to pray for:

... long life, secure dominion, a safe home, a faithful senate, a righteous people, and a world at peace. The Christian is the enemy of no man, least of all of the Emperor, for we know that, since he has been appointed by God, it is necessary that we should love him, and reverence him and honor him, and desire his safety, together with that of the whole Roman Empire.

Another Church father, Cyprian, writing to Emperor Demetrianus, speaks of the Christian church as "sacrificing and placating God night and day for your peace and safety."

Theophilus of the ancient church at Antioch wrote:

The honor that I will give the Emperor is all the greater, because I will not worship him, but I will pray for him... Those give real honor to the Emperor who are well-disposed to him, who obey him, and who pray for him.

Justin Martyr writes:

We worship God alone, but in all other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging kings and rulers of men, and praying that they may be found to have pure reason with kingly power.

Personally and corporately, we need to make prayer for our leaders a priority. A good time to renew this commitment is the 4th of July celebration. This is what God commands. There is a great blessing of 'tranquility" and "quietness" linked to this command. And this was the priority for the early Christian Church office which prayed fervently and continually even for the evil Emperors whom God placed over them.

In closing, I quote from John MacArthur who states:

If the church today took the time and energy it spends on political maneuvering and lobbying and poured them into intercessory prayer, we might see a profound impact on our nation. We have all too often forgotten that "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses" (2 Cor. 10:4). The key to changing a nation is the salvation of sinners, and that calls for faithful prayer.

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427