First-love Fast Devotional: As in the Time of Nero

The emperor Nero was a Roman ruler who ruled from 54AD to 68AD. He was, to put it simply, a very bad man. His debauchery is legendary, and his cruelty was second to none.

Fueled by a hatred for Christians, Nero would often hang Christ-followers from crosses and even feed them to dogs. On multiple occasions, Nero would dip Christians in hot oil or wax and light them on fire to illuminate his garden at night.

Why am I telling you about the atrocities of a psychopathic, murderous, first-century emperor?

Well, Nero was the emperor at the time when the apostle Paul wrote these words:

“Therefore I urge you, first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” I Timothy 2:1-3

Now go back and read those verses one more time and remember who was in power when Paul wrote those words. And, if Paul could pray for Nero, surely we can muster up the strength to pray for our leaders, though we may vehemently disagree with their politics.

Why Is It So Hard?

In times like these, I often reflect on Paul’s words about praying for national leaders. I have to admit it’s harder than it sounds. But why? Why is it so hard to pray for leaders with whom I disagree? What is it in my heart that resists praying for the person that I did not vote for? Why am I more eager to spend my time maligning, vilifying, and devaluing political rivals than I am blessing, giving thanks for, and interceding for them?

Paul tells us in verse 3 that it is “good and acceptable” [literally, “beautiful” and “pleasing”] to God when we do this. In other words, it brings God pleasure when we pray for our imperfect leaders.

In this final week of the First-love Fast, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart. Ask Him to reveal what it is in us that resists Paul’s charge. Ask for grace and strength to speak blessing and let us contend for revelation-light to break in. Fight the urge to waste your time ridiculing them, and instead redeem the time praying for protection over them and their family. Pray for the Lord to cover our leaders with His unending love and tender mercies. This is pleasing to God!

Prayer: “Give our leaders, both locally and nationally, Your judgements, O Lord, and Your righteousness to the teams of people around them.” [paraphrased from Psalm 72:1]

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