Pray to God for Caesar
1 Timothy 2:1
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we
can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity (v.2).
The Roman emperors demanded that their citizens
demonstrate allegiance by kneeling before their
image, pinching a bit of incense, and declaring,
“Caesar is Lord.” Tertullian, a writer in the early
church, would have none of it. He told the emperor
that Christians would not pray to him as if he were
a god but instead would pray to God for him. In
so doing, the Christians were Caesar’s most loyal
supporters, for they sought his prosperity from the only
God who could give it.
Tertullian dared Caesar to continue his persecution of
Christians. “With our hands thus stretched out and up to
God,” he wrote, “rend us with your iron claws, hang us
up on crosses, wrap us in flames, take our heads from us
with the sword, let loose the wild beasts on us—the very
attitude of a Christian praying is one of preparation for
all punishment.” Hmm. How can you kill someone who is
praying for you?
What might happen if Christians followed Tertullian’s
example and Paul’s command to “pray . . . for kings and
all who are in authority”? What if we asked God to grant
wisdom and courage to all of our leaders—not just the
ones who share our values? Our fellow citizens might not
agree with our politics, but they would have to concede
that we want our nation—not just the leaders we agree
It’s easy to become cynical about the corruption and incompetence in
government. But rather than complain, let’s trust God and pray for our leaders!
Your country’s situation may seem hopeless. Your leaders may not believe in
Jesus, and they may get a lot wrong. Follow the command God gave to Jews living
in pagan Babylon: “Work for the peace and prosperity of the city . . . . Pray to the
Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare” (Jer. 29:7). —Mike Wittmer
Not sure how to pray for your leaders? Read Psalms 72:1 to learn what King
Solomon said you should seek in prayer.
Write down the name of a leader whose character or values you greatly
dislike. Pray for that person now and every day this week. Why is