Taylor Troutt is a rising senior at Columbia University in New York City. Her family lives in El Paso, Texas where her father serves as an Army Chaplain. She is a captain of the Columbia Lions softball team and involved in Columbia Faith and Action (CFA). 

When I think of the Fourth of July, it’s family barbecues, fireworks and red, white, and blue. We may use today to have a party with friends and family, which is good and usually restful. It should be noted though; the nation we live in is a broken one. It’s full of broken people and led by broken people. That should break our hearts, because it breaks God’s (Gen 6:5-6). 

In today’s sensitive and divided political climate, praying for our leaders may be completely off your radar, or it may be something you delight in doing. Whatever your preference, we are called by God to pray for all people; this includes our nation and our nation’s leaders.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul urges him to pray for all people, and to intercede especially on behalf of “kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:2). Paul tells us that this is good and pleasing to God, “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).

So when we pray for our leaders, what should we pray?

We first repent of our own sin.

When we are genuinely convicted and repent of our own sin before the Lord, we are humbled. When we repent, we take a position before God that acknowledges how we need him. When we consider Jesus’ grace, mercy, and kindness to us, it should lead us to repentance (Rom 2:4). Second Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face. . . then I will hear from heaven.” Our humble posture before God is of the upmost importance when we are preparing to pray for our leaders, and that posture comes through repentance.

We pray for our leaders’ conviction.

As normal citizens, we don’t interact directly with our nation’s leaders. We aren’t even close to really knowing the condition of their hearts before God. Because of this, just as we would pray for our own help in godliness, we should ask God to convict them of their sin. We should pray, just as we do for all nations, that our leaders would come to know God and submit to him. If we aren't asking God to transform our leaders’ hearts, who are we to complain about their ungodly leadership? We are called to make our requests known to God (Phil 4:6), and that includes desires for transformation in the hearts of our leaders.

We pray for our leaders’ wise council.

By God’s grace, there are people in our national government who know and seek him. We should pray that these people would have heavy influence in the affairs of our nation. God has gifted his people with abilities to serve politically and glorify him (1 Pet 4:10). Politicians who follow Jesus are in a mission field in a sometimes pretty dark profession. It’s our job to pray that they would have the ability to exercise their influence in faithful and mighty ways. 

We pray for our leaders’ humility.

As we come to the Lord humbly with repentant hearts, we should pray for the same humble contrition in our nation’s leaders. American politics is full of the pride that’s attractive to the world instead of the humility that’s pleasing to God. We should pray for leaders who would not pursue political power for personal gain, but for the gain of Christ and of people (Matt 22:37-39).

If you love the current leadership, pray for them (1 Tim 2:1-4). If you don’t love the current leadership, pray for them (Matt 5:44). We need to approach our nation prayerfully, not full of complaint. Our charge is to pray for all people, especially our leaders—not to create disunity and strife within the body of Christ while ignoring our call to pray.

Today, as you chill out with your friends and family or watch some fireworks go off, remember that our nation’s leaders need prayer. Their jobs aren’t easy, and it’s our job to ask God to save and sanctify them.