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Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
— 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)
One of the most basic mandates for the Christian is to pray for the government. God intends His church to exercise a decisive influence for good in the affairs of the nations.
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God wants you to have a good government because it promotes the spread of the gospel. Generally speaking, you can say that Christians get the kind of government they deserve. There is a time lag. It does not happen instantly. But, by and large, Christians are responsible for the government they live under. If you would take less time to criticise and more time to pray, you would have less to criticise.
Why are God’s people responsible? There is a very definite, scriptural reason why this is so. Because we are the only people who have the means to accomplish the results. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Paul says, "we wrestle". Some Christians punctuate this verse wrong. They read, "we wrestle not"—period! That is not what Paul says. Paul says, "we wrestle—not against flesh and blood".
Paul was taking his metaphor from the ancient Olympic Games. Historians agree that of the various contests in the Olympic Games, wrestling made the greatest demands upon the participants. Our Christian experience may best be compared to a wrestling match. In wrestling, no holds are barred. Every part of your being is involved. This is the Christian life. We are in a wrestling match, but not against flesh and blood. Paul says that we are not fighting human beings.
What are we fighting against?
• "Principalities"—unseen kingdoms
• "Powers"—the realms of authority occupied by these unseen kingdoms
• "The rulers of the darkness of this age"—more literally, "the world rulers of the present darkness"
• "Spiritual hosts of wickedness"—more literally, "spirits of wickedness"
Where is the contest taking place? "In high places" or, more literally, "in heavenly places". This is a revelation of the Word of God that every Christian should know. There is an organised kingdom set up in opposition to God and to all God’s purposes. It is the kingdom of satan. Jesus said that satan has a kingdom. Furthermore, He said that satan is in complete control of it. It is not divided and it is in total opposition to God.
In the next devotional we will take a closer look at this, to get a better understanding of how we can pray most effectively.
Father, I realise now that, when I became a Christian, I joined Your army at the same time. I also see that my fight is not against flesh and blood – so not against the government – but against the spirits behind it, trying to control the government. Thank You that You gave us the powerful weapon of prayer to use in this spiritual battle and please teach me to pray effectively. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
These messages are taken from Derek Prince's book, Praying for the Government, available in our webshop here. For further study, we also recommend his book, Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, available here.