Why is it important to pray for our leaders? How should we pray for leaders?
The Bible gives examples of people who prayed for their leaders, such as the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament church. The Bible also gives us specific commands to pray for our leaders.
First Timothy 2:1–4 says, "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."
Romans 13:1 tells us that the governing authorities are established by God. We are expected to honor them. In part, we can honor them by praying for their well-being. We also want our governing authorities to lead us well. They can do this best with God's help, so we pray for them. Solomon asked God for wisdom so that he could lead well (1 Kings 3). We certainly hope that our leaders are praying for wisdom for themselves, but we know that not all of our leaders acknowledge and follow God. And even when they do, adding our prayers to theirs is beneficial. God can use any leader—whether that leader believes in Him or not—so we pray that our governing authorities will know God and will also have His wisdom to carry out the duties of their positions.
Of course, there are many leaders in our lives who are not part of the government. We should be praying for those who lead us in the church (Ephesians 6:18–20) and those who serve us on police departments, schools, and at work, for example. Leaders of every kind need God's support and guidance.
Leaders in the church have an extra amount of stress and responsibility (James 3:1). We honor them and demonstrate gratitude by lifting them up in prayer. We pray for their well-being, for their families, for them to be refreshed, for them to know God's peace and joy, and for them to have God's discernment and wisdom. We can also pray for the effectiveness of their ministries in bringing glory to God.
All leaders benefit from prayer. When we pray for any of our leaders, we can ask God to grant them direction, discernment, and wisdom (James 1:5). Pray that your leaders know Jesus as their Savior. Pray that their decisions will honor God and draw others to honor Him.
We can also pray for protection for our leaders from the schemes of the enemy. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
We should also pray for the family members of our leaders, who often help to bear the load of leadership. Pray, too, that your leaders will have godly friends who support and encourage them.
It is often easier to pray for a leader with whom we naturally agree or who we think is leading well. It is more challenging to pray for a leader with whom we struggle. But we are called to pray for our leaders regardless of our personal feelings toward them. You can ask God to help you respect and honor your leaders well even in the midst of your disagreements with them.
Praying for our leaders brings glory to God. It helps us understand and be grateful for their sacrifices and the responsibility they bear. Prayer also acknowledges that God is the ultimate authority. When we pray for our leaders, we are asking God to equip the men and women He has placed in authority over us to carry out His purposes.