Theme: A Summary Petition
In this week’s lessons we learn what kind of people our leaders should be, and how we should pray for those whom God has put in authority over us.
Scripture: Psalm 20:1-9
Let me give one more illustration of how God answers prayer concerning a national situation.
In Romania, where President Nicolae Ceausescu just weeks before had declared that apple trees would bear pears before socialism should be endangered in Romania, the end began in the house of a Protestant pastor whose parishioners surrounded him, declaring that they were willing to die rather than let him be arrested by the state police.7 Josef Tson, the founder and president of the Romanian Missionary Society, was in Romania just after the death of Ceausescu and reported the details of the story.
The pastor was a Reformed minister in the city of Timisoara, His name was Laszlo Tokes. The secret police wanted to evict him from the town to eliminate his influence, but the members of the church took up a vigil around his house to prevent it. On Saturday, December 16, 1989, just a few days before Christmas, hundreds and then thousands of people joined these brave parishioners. One was a twenty-four-year-old Baptist church worker who got the idea of distributing candles to the ever growing multitude. He lit his candle, and then the others lit theirs. This transformed the protective strategy into a contagious demonstration, the beginning of the revolution. The next day, when the secret police opened fire on the people, the young man was shot in the leg. The doctors had to amputate his leg, but on his hospital bed this young man told his pastor, “I lost a leg, but I am happy. I lit the first light.” Romanians do not call the events of December 1989 a national revolution. They say rather, “Call it God’s miracle.”8
If “every good and perfect gift” comes from the Lord, as the Bible says it does (James 1:17), then freedom also comes from him and the nation that seeks it will receive it in God’s time. On the other hand, a country that forgets God, as our country in spite of its genuinely religious roots seems hell-bent on doing, will be overwhelmed by tyranny.
Psalm 20 closes with a summary petition in verse 8: “O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!” Here is an Old Testament text telling us to pray for the men and women God sets over us, just as the New Testament also instructs us: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
Let’s do it! But as we do, let us also pray that God will give us godly leaders and make us into the kind of people who will be able to produce such leaders, be willing to elect them to office and then follow them as they urge us to follow after God and his righteousness.
Study Questions:

How has America changed religiously since its founding? How has this change affected the country’s reputation around the world?
What can you do to encourage your political leaders, particularly at the local and state levels, to do their work in a righteous way?

Application: Do you pray for your political leaders? If you do not, why? Write down a list of concerns that you could pray for regarding your local, state or national representatives.
For Further Study: Since the Bible commands us to pray for our leaders in government, whether they are Christians or not, how much more do we need to pray for Christians who labor in ministry. Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “Prayer for Christian Workers.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
7The generally neglected story of the role of the church in the changes that have come to Eastern Europe is told in part in the January 22, 1990, issue of National Review, “How the East Was Won: Reports on the Rebirth of Christianity under Communism,” pp. 22-28.
8Voice of Truth magazine, Romanian Missionary Society, January-February 1990 issue, p. 2.

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