Seven Proverbs-Inspired Prayers for Our Leaders1
Scripture-Informed Prayers for Leaders Inside and Outside the Church
In I Timothy 2, the Apostle Paul provides us with a call to action in regard to our civic leaders:
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.
Simply put, God (through Paul) calls us to pray for our leaders. Why? So that as they lead well in terms of the common good, “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life”. Why is that important? Well, since God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” prayer can help create a stable, societal platform for the gospel-announcing, disciple-making work of the Church.
But how exactly should we pray for our leaders? One way to answer that question is to consider what God's word reveals about God's design for leadership. While there are many relevant passages in terms of leadership, consider with what we discover in the book of Proverbs. Did you know Proverbs includes around fifty verses that mention (or are part of a passage that mentions) either a “king”, “ruler”, “prince”, or “noble”, or that speak to a royal context or function? While such leaders are not the focus of all these verses*, the majority of them clearly reveal God's ideal for healthy and effective leadership (it's important to note that Proverbs was composed and collected by King Solomon for his son (cf. 1:8; 10:1; 19:27; 23:15; 27:11), a son that might one day assume the throne of Israel).
And so if we desire healthy and effective leadership in our lives, prayer is one powerful way to genuinely make a difference. To that end, here are seven Proverbs-inspired prayers for our leaders (both inside and outside the church and at every level: local, national, and international):
Prayer #1: “God, please lead our leaders in both doing what is right and desiring what is right”
It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. (Proverbs 16:12)
Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. (Proverbs 16:13)
He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend. (Proverbs 22:11)
Partiality in judging is not good.  Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,  but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. (Proverbs 24:23-25)
By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down. (Proverbs 29:4)
Prayer #2: “Lord God, guard our leaders against that which distracts and that which distorts in terms of doing what is right.”
What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?  Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.  It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink,  lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (Proverbs 31:2-5)
Prayer #3: “Father, fill our leaders with both compassion and commitment when it comes to those most in need of their position.”
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)
If a king faithfully judges the poor, his throne will be established forever. (Proverbs 29:14)
Prayer #4: “Gracious God, since life can be hard, people messy, and situations complex, would you grant our leaders wisdom in doing what is right in each and every decision.”D
By me [i.e., wisdom] kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;  by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. (Proverbs 8:15-16)
When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (Proverbs 28:2)
Prayer #5: “Almighty God, fill our leaders ears with wise counsel, as you surround them with people who put principle before position or power.”
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)
Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war. (Proverbs 20:18)
Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel;  take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. (Proverbs 25:4-5)
Prayer #6: “Father, guard the hearts of our leaders from seeing their position as a means of getting, rather than a means of giving.”
A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. (Proverbs 28:16)
Prayer #7: “O God, let the leadership of our leaders always be life-giving in terms of our life together.”
In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain. (Proverbs 16:15)d
I think it's important to conclude with two more “king/ruler” verses from Proverbs. Both of these verses are far more important than they rest, since they direct the eyes of our heart far higher than any earthly position of leadership:d
Lest we fear when human leaders seem out of control, God reassures in Proverbs 21:1... The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. Even the earth's most powerful leaders cannot overpower “the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).d
And lest we forget when human leaders seem to be the savior we need most, Proverbs 29:26... Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice. As we've seen, God can and certainly does use leaders to for the common good, but that should never turn hearts from the fact that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights...” (James 1:17).d
Thanks be to God that these temptations to both fear and forget can be overcome by the promises of the gospel. It is through Jesus, and only Jesus, we can rest assured that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28); only the leadership of Jesus Christ can rescue both us and our leaders from the counterfeit rule of sin, of self, of Satan, and of the system of this world. May we continue to grow (and pray!) in light of his loving leadership.
*Some qualifications about these “king” and “ruler” passages in Proverbs: several of these passages provide guidance to those being led, rather than those who are leading (e.g., 25:6–7); other verses (e.g., 20:28) do not directly apply to leaders in general since they seem speak in light of the covenant context of God's promise to David and David's royal line (II Samuel 7:12-16).
More in Grace Extending
February 3, 2021How the Apostles Might Encourage Us to Use a Church Directory
January 28, 2021Who is the Object of Your Faith?
November 30, 2020Our Advent Devotional