Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham is urging Christians to intercede for President Obama and other U.S. leaders, arguing that prayer is the strongest weapon in a world that seems to be coming apart.
In a blog post titled "Praying for Authority is a Biblical Command," Graham, who is the son of evangelist Billy Graham, cites the many issues facing the nation's leaders today, including the Ebola crisis and the ongoing conflict with the Islamic State militant group.
"We know from Scripture that God can turn the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1). That means that we should be praying for God's will to be done and for our leaders to seek God and listen to Him. We should pray that they would be surrounded by godly counsel and, most important, that our leadership would personally know God and the salvation found through faith in Jesus Christ alone."
Graham added that praying for the nation's leaders is not an optional request for Christians, but a mandate given directly by God.
"Interceding for those in authority is not an option. It is a biblical command that we are to obey. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim. 2:1-2, KJV)."
Graham references how the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to pray for the vile emperor Nero, who at the time viciously persecuted Christians
"The aged apostle, who would soon be martyred during Nero's reign of terror, instructs Timothy to make prayer for the rulers of his day-including the deranged Nero-a personal priority."
He continues: "The Bible commands us to pray for authorities, because all authority has been established by Him to accomplish His purposes."
Graham encourages Christians to intercede for U.S. leaders and pray that they will make wise decisions regardless of their political views.
"Should we not be diligently praying that God would give our president, Congress and military leaders wisdom? Our senators and governors and council members need our prayers-even if they are not the candidates we voted for," Graham writes.
"There should be a sense of urgency in our prayer life, an understanding that we "do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). The prince of darkness is grimly and powerfully at work in world affairs, and prayer is a great battlefield-especially as we pray for those in leadership."
The CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association also reiterates the power of prayer and reminds his readers that God is the ultimate authority amid ongoing crisis.
"When Scripture says that the "king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water" (Prov. 21:1), it means that a Sovereign God can turn the heart of a king at any time and in any way. If there are policies and platforms that don't conform to biblical ethics, the intercession of Christians can be used in a powerful, transforming way.
Neither kings, nor presidents, nor mayors, nor members of Congress are the ultimate authority-God is. When the prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish exiles who lived in Babylonian captivity, he encouraged them not to protest or rebel against their captors, but to pray for them...
Perhaps this is at least part of what the apostle meant when he said that praying for our leaders can result in an atmosphere that is conducive to the spreading of the gospel, leading to a "quiet and peaceable life" (1 Tim. 2:2, KJV). The more hostile the culture is to Christians and Christianity-and that is certainly the case in our nation today-the more difficult it is to preach and teach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord may use our prayers for those in authority to somehow delay or even stop legislation or initiatives that hinder the advance of the gospel. We have experienced serious moral degradation in America, but there are still many opportunities for the proclamation of the gospel. The day may soon come when that freedom no longer exists, thus all the more reason to pray for God's mercy to turn the hearts of our leaders now."
Most importantly, Graham writes, God commands Christians to pray for world leaders so that they may come to know the saving power of Jesus Christ.
"It is also very clear that the ultimate reason the Bible instructs us to intercede on behalf of our leaders is so that they might come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
God's desire is that as many people as possible be saved before He returns. He commands "all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30), so that they might escape the eternal wrath of God at the judgment.
Praying for those in authority means that we are constantly asking that the Lord will open their hearts to the truth of the gospel message and receive Christ as their Savior. Born-again leaders have the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit to guide them as they seek to govern.
I can't help but ask myself if all Christians had fulfilled this admonition and been faithful to pray for our leaders, would our nation-even our world-be different today? Can our diligent, heartfelt prayers make a difference for the future? Most certainly.
Prayer is the Christian's greatest weapon in a world that seems to be coming apart around us."