And for Iraq, Russia, Germany, and, well, kings and all who are in high positions. This, after all, is what the Apostle Paul expressed as his urgent request of the believers in his day. It must be just as important and urgent in ours (1 Tim. 2.1, 2).
Governments are instituted by God to maintain order and justice in societies and nations (Rom. 13.1-4). Even corrupt or tyrannical governments serve a measure of this purpose, although, as is now apparent in Egypt, the time comes when such governments can no longer sustain their regimes. The weight of corruption and oppression simply becomes too great. But what happens when such governments fall?
Paul's concern was that "we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." He seems above all to have had in mind the members of the Body of Christ. Christians have experienced persecution in Egypt of late. Some might think President Mubarak's difficulties an act of divine judgment?
But Christians have little peace and quiet, and are denied the dignity of free worship in many nations with which our own country does all manner of lucrative business. I wonder how often we pray for Muslim kings, Marxist dictators, and the democratically-elected leaders of India?
The people of Egypt are experiencing unrest and uncertainty, and the outcome of their present difficulties could be formative for generations to come in the Muslim world, the mid-east, and, indeed, in America itself. It's easy enough to blame President Mubarak, or even Islam itself. But do we have some share of the responsibility here? Do we have to wait for crises and threats to our wellbeing before we begin to pray for the kings and public officials of the world?
Paul's exhortation is just one example of many clear and unequivocal teachings of Scripture to which, to our shame, we too often give mere lip service, or, at best, selectively apply. We may pray for President Obama - may, I say - but when it comes to the heads of other nations, nations where Christians live in fear and oppression, do we pray for those rulers as well? Do we pray that God may restrain their wickedness and allow the grace and truth of the Gospel to flow freely from the churches and believers there? Do we pray for an end to persecution? For peace and safety for our fellow believers?
If we have not prayed for Egypt and her rulers, we share responsibility for the troubles our brethren in the Lord have experienced there, and in the present upheaval and crisis as well. Paul commands us to pray for kings.
There's no time like the present to begin.
Additional related texts: 1 Peter 2.13-25; Psalm 72; 1 Samuel 12.13-25
A conversation starter: "I wonder if things would be different in Egypt if Christians around the world had been faithful to pray for their rulers?"
We are urged to pray, and yet we do not. What do we expect God to do? Give us what He commands us to ask for, even though we refuse to ask?