Almost every week at Calvary Grace, as part of the order of service, we offer a prayer to God for those serving in our federal, provincial, or municipal levels of government. We do this because we are commanded to, as the Apostle Paul wrote:
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. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Don’t forget that when Paul wrote this, the “kings and all who are in high positions” would have been characters like the Herod family, murderers of infants and prophets, and the Roman emperors. In other words, the fact that the government might not be to our liking as Christians doesn’t remove the responsibility we have to plead to God on their behalf. It’s not just our favourite candidates that get prayed for; we pray for every leader, even–and I’d argue especially–for those we oppose.
And these prayers do not go unanswered. Just today, literally within hours of each other, two events took place in federal politics–one in Canada, and the other in the United States–that not only show God’s common grace in guiding governmental decisions toward justice, but also God’s grace to us as believers in answering our prayers.
In Canada, the Trudeau government has been working on cleaning up the Criminal Code and removing archaic and redundant laws. It’s a sad indication of the secular “bubble” that many of our legislators live in that, until today, the government was seriously planning to remove Section 176, which made it illegal to disrupt worship services. The justification offered–that other laws already make such acts illegal–not only rang hollow in a cultural environment that regularly sees the “heckler’s veto” employed to shut down free speech, but in the aftermath of Sunday’s tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas, came off as tone-deaf and insensitive. Thankfully, this morning, members of all three of Canada’s national political parties voted to preserve this section.
In the United States, Republicans in the House of Representatives, which is working to simplify the tax code, have been pilloried for days by their own political base for a tax plan that not only keeps federal funding for an organization that kills, dismembers, and sells pieces of unborn children but removed a tax credit for families pursuing adoption. Even the Democrats attempted to reinstate the tax credit, only to be shot down. Again, thankfully, there was a sudden “change of heart” in Washington today as both the Senate and the House Republicans announced that, having received an utter avalanche of protest calls and emails, the tax credit would be reinstated.
Ultimately, government cannot solve humanity’s fundamental problem of sin. But God has mercifully given us political leaders, governments, and civil services for the purpose of making life livable until he, alone, brings about perfect justice. Both of these decisions serve to restrain wickedness and promote justice in their respective countries. Even more, both decisions in their own way preserve the ability of Christians and churches to display and promote the Gospel before unbelieving fellow citizens.
That witness is, at least at Calvary Grace, a persistent theme in our prayers for political leaders, as we ask God to promote justice and peace through them in order that the Gospel would spread “without hindrance” (Acts 28:31). There are certainly many examples both north and south of the border of wicked and immoral government action, which should spur all Christians to even more fervent prayer while reminding them of the very real limitations of political action. But today, we can thank and praise God that he not only hears our prayers but, according to his will, has in these two cases granted them.