The Prayers of the Faithful . . . a written apology (explanation) on why we as Lutherans pray for those in authority
As the pastor, and resident theologian, I have learned that each new day offers an opportunity to learn and grow in the faith that we are given freely through God’s grace. I have also learned that while growing is sometimes easily accepted, there are other moments when we tend to push back a bit. As one who is no different than those reading this apology, I do the same. Sometimes I embrace that grace, while other times, I push back saying, “I don’t understand,,” or , “this is not for me.” The goal of this apology is to help us all learn a bit more about how and why Lutherans offer public prayer as we do, and more specifically why we as Lutherans should pray, for those in authority, regardless their political connection, for those in authority.
Our worship service at Good Shepherd is formed by the Evangelical Lutheran Worship service book that is found in every pew rack. Within that resource, we find ten different settings for the Holy Eucharist, a Service of the Word, and several other settings to guide us through our Life Passages and the Church Year. This resource also gives us direction in regard to how the Prayers of the Faithful, or the Prayers of Intercession are to be expressed. On page 105, you will find these words:
Prayers reflect the wideness of God’s mercy for the whole world --
For the church universal, its ministry, and the mission of the gospel;
For the well-being of creation;
For the peace and justice in the world, the nations and those in authority, the community;
For the poor, oppressed, sick, bereaved, lonely;
For all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit;
For the congregation, and for special concerns;
Additional prayers may come from the assembly.
Prayers of thanksgiving for the faithful departed may include those who recently have died an those commemorated on the church’s calendar.
This pattern for prayer was not put into place without thought. Each petition is rooted in the Word of God and is offered in response to God’s direction. For the purpose of this apology, I will focus on the prayers we offer for those who are in authority. The question has been asked,
“Why are we praying for the president?”
The Bible gives us these four directives and several others which answer that question.
Romans13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
I Timothy 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Jeremiah 29:7 “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom God has chosen as His heritage.”
As people of the Christian faith we believe that prayer can change situations. We believe prayer has the power to change the hearts of others. We believe prayer has the power to change our hearts. We believe prayer can bring healing and wholeness into every life. We believe prayer can bring peace in the midst of conflict, belief in the midst of unbelief and certainty in the midst of uncertainty.
So, we pray. We pray for the lost, the broken, the suffering and the dying. We pray for the church, the world around us and those who are forced to live lives in unjust situations. In our prayers we give thanks to God for His bountiful and steadfast mercy. For His love that endures forever. For those concerns so deep within our hearts that we dare not speak them aloud and yes, we prayer for those in authority. We pray for those from the top down that they, too, will be found faithful, just, and kind so that regardless of who they are, they will do the right thing for the least of these.
Luther once stated that when he knew it was going to be a difficult day, he would begin that day with the first three hours in prayer. The more I learn and grow, the more I believe Dr. Luther was on to something. It is my prayer that we at Good Shepherd will become a people of prayer. A people who know the power of prayer and who pray for all.
“Lord God, King of the Universe, Ruler of all.
We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world.
We pray for our president Donald, our vice-president Michael, our governor Richard and our mayor Jim. May you guide the people of this land and all in authority in the ways of justice
and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good.”
Lord in your mercy, HEAR OUR PRAYER.