I’m no fan of Boris Johnson (apologies to those who are). This post by Steve Kneale catches some of my reservations if you are interested.
Yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury (as is his job) called on people to pray for Boris and some of the responses were predictable.
Never mind praying for that prick, pray for the rest of us!!!
— . (@___Q__) July 24, 2019
Now Twitter is not known for the subtlety and grace of the discussions that it hosts. But being serious for a moment, should I really pray for a Prime Minister, whose personal morality and many of whose policies I struggle with?
Well, the Apostle Paul makes it plain what my responsibility is:
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. 1 Tim. 2:2
So, we have to pray for kings and all those in authority. There is no get-out clause about only doing so when we agree with them or like them. The reason why we should pray for them is to that we can get on with our lives peacefully and in a godly and dignified fashion. Building on the principle of this verse, we could also pray that the government would enact policies which are just and right across the board, economically, socially and so on. We may not have much faith in the government, but for good or ill they are the only government we have and the success of the country is, to some extent, determined by them. On this basis alone, we should pray for our government, whoever is in charge.
However, Paul’s exhortation goes a little deeper. The kings and authorities that he was talking about were the leaders of the Roman Empire. These were the people who had imprisoned Paul and who at the time he wrote this, were starting to persecute believers. Let’s face it, if Paul could bring himself to pray for the emperor Nero, then we should be able to rustle up a prayer or two for Boris Johnson.
This doesn’t for one moment mean that we have to agree with or support everything (or even anything) that the government does. In a democratic society such as ours, we have a parallel responsibility to make our voice heard and to vote according to our consciences. Those with strong party-affiliations should campaign and do their best to ensure that someone else forms the next government – but they still have to pray for this one.