Daily Gleaning - Earthly Authorities
In last evening's prayer, we were lamenting the state of politics in America, and being tempted to worry that God might have forgotten us or that we might bless evil, we prayed like this for princes, kings, presidents and all others holding the reins of secular authority:
Minister. Reign supreme, O God, over the powers of this world.
Answer. And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.
To be followed by prayers for civil and other earthly authorities; for the prosperity and peace of all men.
There are several reasons to pray this way.
- It is generic in terms of location. A person in any nation will not feel culturally excluded.
- It imposes no assumptions about the form of government. It is equally suited to citizens of a republic with elected representation as to subjects under monarchs and dictators.
- It does not presume that the governing authority desires God's blessing, but only that God desires all earthly rulers to submit to His sovereign power.
- It affirms that the Lord's purposes in the affairs of men are righteous and merciful even when it may appear that a ruler is abusing his power to the detriment of the people and the dishonor of God.
- Finally, it is consistent with historic Reformed doctrine which describes man's duty to be obedient to rulers by analogy to the duty of creatures to be obedient to men. In Thomas Cranmer's "Homily Against Disobedience And Willful Rebellion" we read "And, as God would have man to be his obedient subject, so did he make all earthly creatures subject unto man; who kept their due obedience unto man so long as man remained in his obedience unto God." This same Homily offers by example of a righteous attitude toward earthly authority the relationship between David and the then King Saul in which David saw no conflict between refusing to "lay a hand on God's anointed" and calling him his enemy.