Samples of Public Prayers Prayed by Pastors


Editor’s Note:

Some argue that a Baptist political theology is retreatist or pietistic—i.e., it ignores the here and now and the people in it. We disagree. Rather than retreat, God commands Christians to pray for the leaders of their land (1 Tim. 2:2). Our leaders desperately need God’s wisdom to exercise their authority well. More than that, they need God’s gospel. They need to repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. So we must pray for them and share the gospel with them. To encourage you and your church to this end, we asked some pastors for public prayers they’ve prayed over authority figures in high places.

Mark Dever, January 20, 1995, United States Congress

Let us pray:

Lord God, before the debates and disputes, the committees and compromises which may fill our day, we would stop and confess publicly that you are a good God. You have provided all we need, and so much more. We praise you for the freedom from want which marks off this land from so many others. Thank you for the wise and just leaders who work in this place, and for the people who honor law and pray for our elected officials. Thank you for all the good motives which move the hearts of those present to undertake these duties of governance.

We ask that where their hearts are stubborn to you, you would subdue them; where they are mistaken, you would teach them; where they are discouraged, you would comfort and strengthen them. Help them in their service to this nation, to discern their service to you. Lord God, bless America, we pray. Forgive us for our callousness to your blessings. Forgive this nation, particularly we pray for the ways in which we abuse our leaders. Give this nation a sense of the hope for justice and prosperity that America still is to many around the globe today.

We ask that you would give us a renewed sense of your bounty in this land, an appreciation of the wealth you have given us in the abundance of natural resources, in the hard work of so many people, in the stability of our society. Give us a nation marked by gratitude for your blessings, and stewardship of them in kindness and compassion and self-control. We pray that this Chamber would reflect your character in this. And along with a renewed sense of your bounty, we pray for a renewed sense of our accountability. Remind all who work here, in massive buildings which seem so permanent, remind them of the brevity of life, and the certainty of judgment. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mark Dever, May 23, 1996, United States Congress

Let us pray:

Lord God, as we begin the official business of the day in this place, we praise you for your sustaining presence. We remember facing situations that we were certain we could not face, or having to face them, could not survive. Yet, by your providence, we did. And so we begin this new day by praising you for your sustaining presence, even in apparently hopeless situations.

We praise you, too, for your sovereign reminder of yourself, even through pain and disaster. We confess, Lord, that for all of our words about problems in our society, we are too often quietly and wrongly proud of the prosperity of this nation, feeling that we ourselves are sufficient explanations for all the good we see and know. So, Lord God, we praise you and thank you that you use the bounds of our abilities and troubles to remind us of the limits of our power. Do not leave us, Lord, in false beliefs about ourselves and our roles here, or about you and your rightful claims on us.

When we are frustrated by injustices we cannot address, remind us, Lord, of the brevity of this life. And remind us of your coming judgment: of its reality, its certainty, its inevitability, its finality. When we are tempted to be selfish or indifferent to our work, remind us of the responsibility you have entrusted to us: to listen, to learn, to reflect, to pray, to legislate, to obey. When we are tempted to pride in what we have done—when we see a bill passed, a program begun or ended, an initiative completed—and we feel something of the power of our office, remind us of our complete and utter dependence on You.

For your glory, O Lord, restore this land. We know that we are not here finally to fulfill our own desires, or even the desires of our constituents. We know that we are put here to serve you. So, we pray that you would use us—use the business done in this place today, use our government, use our nation to display your character, your glory throughout all your creation. We ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Juan Sanchez, March 16, 2015, Texas State Senate Session

Let us pray.

Almighty God, you are “the king of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God; to you be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17).

We acknowledge that, in your providential care, you have appointed governing authorities over us (Rom. 13; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). We also acknowledge that, like ourselves, these human authorities are imperfect. Yet, they are your servants, given to us as a gift of your grace in order that we may live in a just and peaceful society. Therefore, you urge us to offer prayers and thanksgivings for our leaders in order that we may lead peaceful lives, godly and dignified in every way, for such prayers are pleasing to you (1 Tim. 2:1-8).

Therefore, we thank you, Almighty God, for our leaders. Thank you for the men and women who serve in this senate chamber, both now and in the years to come. Thank you for their willingness to sacrifice time with their own families and careers in order to serve us.

We ask now, O God, that you would sustain these senators as they work together to promote a just and peaceful society for all Texans. May you grant them wisdom as they consider difficult issues that affect all Texans. May you grant them compassion as they seek to faithfully represent the diversity of peoples who call ourselves Texans. May you grant them courage both to stand up for their convictions and to change their positions when convicted to do so, regardless of whatever cultural, political, and relational pressures they may feel. And may you grant them kindness toward one another as they work together to represent all Texans.

Now, Almighty God, we ask that you would bless this session of the Texas State Senate. May all of us be able to look back upon this session years from now and acknowledge that much good was done on behalf of all who live in this great state of Texas. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Juan R. Sanchez, May 29, 2015, Texas State Senate Session

Let us pray.

All-wise God, your judgments are unsearchable and your ways inscrutable (Rom. 11:33). For from you and through you and to you are all things. To you be all glory forever (Rom. 11:36).

We thank you that in your wisdom you appointed these men and women to serve in the 84th Texas Legislature in order that all Texans, regardless of our differences, may live together in a just and peaceful society (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).

We ask, O wise God, that you would bless this last day of the regular session of this senate. May the men and women of this chamber be encouraged by the work they have accomplished, and may they look forward to sweet reunions with family and friends as they return home.

May you also grant much grace so that at the end of this day these men and women may part as colleagues who respect and honor one another, though they may disagree on various and even important issues, for we can all agree that all in this chamber share a common love for the people of this state and long to see us flourish.

We also ask on behalf of all who have been affected by the recent flooding. Spare life and property, O God, and show your kindness.

Now, great God, we ask that when this session concludes that you may grant these senators favor as they return home to pursue other endeavors. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Jaime Owens, March 1, 2023, Boston City Council

Father in heaven, you are a great God, the living God, the only God. You are righteous and just, and yet, you abound in steadfast love and faithfulness. You are the Creator and Sustainer of the galaxies, majestic in holiness, transcendent, and set apart from your creation. And yet, in compassion, you have moved to redeem this fallen world. As the Creator, you are creation’s judge, the One to whom everyone must give an account. And yet, you are a tender Father towards those who trust in you.

O Lord, I approach your throne of grace in prayer to ask for wisdom to govern in times of trial. You know that we are in desperate times as a nation and a city. In your Word, the Psalmist asks, “If the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). Surely, wisdom calls us to look to you, to the sovereign Lord. And you have declared in your Word that the times are in your hands (Ps. 31:15). I pray that this Council will boldly and courageously face an unknown future, both in their personal lives and as City Counselors, drawing confidence not in their own virtue and abilities, or in their own grit and resolve, but in your power and your love.

I pray for the vulnerable of our city, for the homeless, for many of our veterans, for those caught up in sex-trafficking and the drug trade. I pray for victims of violence and for their families, for children who are at risk of harm and abuse, and for so many others. And I also pray for first responders, for medical staff, for the shelters and churches throughout this city, and for so many others who render care. O Lord, you are a God who is near to the broken-hearted, a God who saves the crushed in Spirit. I pray that you would be near to them, to provide, protect, and comfort them.

I pray particularly that the work of this Council would be a display of your own compassion and care for the least of these. May these Council members burn with passion to see the hurting healed and the wounded made whole. May they love justice and mercy and display it in their efforts to alleviate suffering in the city of Boston.

I pray also that each member of this Council would be marked by integrity, by a disinterestedness that lends to the care of others, that the flourishing of this great city and all who move within it would be their greatest concern, so that justice would roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

I pray that you would guard each Councilor from desires and temptations for dishonest gain. Give each one an aversion to corruption. Cause them to be the same people in the darkness as in the light of this chamber, that the reputation of this Council and this city will gleam for many years to come.

I pray also that collectively, as the legislative body over this city, that their use of authority, though it will not be perfect, will reflect your very own. I pray now for the city of Boston in the words of your departed servant King David,

When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. (2 Sam. 23:3-4)

I pray that under the guidance of this Council, the city of Boston, its institutions, its residents, and all who pass the time in her streets will flourish like a well-watered field.

And finally, I pray that your love, supremely displayed in the sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ and in his glorious resurrection, would be known and trusted among the members of this Council. Thank you for sending your Son to bear in his own body the guilt for sin for all of those who trust in you!

O Lord, grant to this Council blessing and joy as they serve us. And may your name be glorified among the members of this body! In the strong name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Ross Shannon, March 16, 2016, Michigan Senate

Father, we come before you this morning and ask for your blessing. We have no good apart from you—so we ask: would you come and give these servants wisdom to lead and wisdom to legislate? May their leadership sustain our freedom to live peaceful and quiet lives, our freedom to live under your good and sovereign hand. May their work recognize the worth of every human life—no matter that life’s size, or level of development, or ethnicity, or neighborhood, or degree of dependency, or location, or desirability by some. We are all made in your image. We are all given life by your hand. May we all receive it and preserve it as a precious gift. May these servants love what you love and rule as you rule: with equity and justice.

Father, would you help us to recognize that you do according to your will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth? You work all things according to the council of your will. Would you give us eyes to see that none can stay hand or say to you, “What have you done?” There is no authority except from you, and where there is authority—like here in this room—it has been instituted by you. You raise up leaders and remove them. You resist the proud but give grace to the humble. Give us, we pray, a greater awareness—this morning—of these realities. Give us the strength to serve others in light of them.

We have no good apart from you—and so we thank you for the greatest of goods. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ—he came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Father, bless this day in this place and bless these servants. We commit it all into your good hands. And we pray it in the strong name of Jesus, Amen.

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