My husband and I were discussing Paul's mandate from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 that we pray for our nation's leaders first. In Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince writes, "Out of the whole human race, for whom are we to pray first? Is it for the missionary? The evangelist? The sick? No, and this is where the great majority of Christians are out of line with the revealed will of God. They do not put God's priority first…Have you realized that your primary responsibility in prayer is to pray for the government of your nation? My observation is that in multitudes of churches the people never think about that, even once a month. Yet Paul put it first."
As I sought to pray for our nation's leaders this morning, I had a new revelation. I have prayed for our leaders to have wisdom. I have prayed that our leaders would repent. I have even prayed that they would be blessed. But I have never prayed that they would be forgiven. It didn't take long to figure out what that was all about. I've wanted those who have misused their authority to get what is coming to them.
Sure, I have long understood that the only way I can be healthy and forgiven myself is to forgive others. I have not been harboring any grudges against Jimmy Carter, I can tell you! I don't even feel bitter toward more recent leaders I haven't agreed with. But I haven't done what Jesus did while in agony on the cross. I haven't asked my heavenly Father to forgive our nation's authorities.
This morning I did just that and it felt so good. In fact, I experienced such freedom in requesting forgiveness for our leaders that I started wondering if I needed to generalize. Sure enough, though I have believed I have forgiven so many people in my life of so many things, I secretly hold on to the idea that these evildoers will get what's coming to them in the end. That isn't true forgiveness, is it? I certainly don't want anyone hoping that I'll get what's coming to me!
If the thought of asking God to forgive our nation's leaders turns your stomach, read the account of King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. This is one of my favorite accounts of a stubborn, arrogant, even cruel man who was changed and forgiven by our awesome God. I have spoken to people who tell me it just doesn't seem fair that people like that can be forgiven and saved. I am so thankful our God doesn't deal fairly with me and deny me eternal life based on my every wrong, aren't you?
Derek Prince writes that in praying for our government, we are asking God for the freedom to live as His ambassadors in a fallen world. When we also pray for those who have wronged us, we are asking God for freedom from the emotional, physical, and spiritual pain we have suffered at the hands of others. I believe He will answer our prayers.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13