“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all people, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (I Timothy 2:1-2)
Many are familiar with St. Paul’s advice to the young bishop Timothy, and through him to all believers, concerning how Christians should regard civil authorities. Even the most rudimentary knowledge of Church history — or more broadly of world history — will reveal the significance of Paul’s words. St. Paul is exhorting believers to offer prayers and the “giving of thanks,” literally the Eucharist, for a regime that was intentionally and mercilessly targeting Christians for extinction.
The implication of these words is clear. We pray for our civil leaders, even remembering them in our most solemn celebration, the Liturgy, regardless of whether they like us or not. We can extrapolate from the Apostle’s words that, in a democracy, we should pray for our civil leaders whether we voted for them or not, whether they are from the party we support or not.
That’s the first half of the above passage. Let’s also pay attention to the second half. We pray for our civil authorities for a specific purpose: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” Our prayer is that, in the administration of their duties, our civil leaders create an environment that is conducive to believers engaging in the daily task of being our Lord’s disciples. Again, though, we can do some extrapolating here.
If we are asking God to move the hearts of our civil authorities in ways that will allow us to live peaceful, godly lives, that means that we are identifying peaceful, godly lives as a priority. Regardless of who wins this election, may we always stay prayerful and peaceful, godly and reverent, including (and maybe these days especially) in our reaction to the winners and our response to the losers.