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Good Government through Prayer
Now today I want to be practical. I want to speak in a very practical way about how we can stretch out the rod, what it means to do it and what results we can expect from doing it. So I’m going to take the theme of our obligation and our responsibility as Christians to pray regularly and intelligently and first and foremost for our government, an obligation in which the majority of Christians, until just recently, have been astoundingly negligent.
I want you to turn with me to 1Timothy chapter 2 and read, or follow as I read, the first 4 verses. Now the first epistle to Timothy was written to Timothy to tell him how to order the affairs of a local congregation. This is the essential theme of the epistle. And in chapter 2 Paul comes down to the first collective responsibility of a local congregation, and he says first of all:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
I want to take a little time to analyze the clear simple teaching of those verses. Paul says, “First of all.” in other words the first collective responsibility ministry and outreach of Christians meeting in assembly is intercession, supplications, prayers, giving of thanks. Sum it up in one word—I believe the word is prayer. The primary responsibility of Christians in assembly is prayer. It’s their primary outreach before anything else.
And then at the end of the verse it says, “Prayer for all men.” And in Isaiah 56:7, God says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” What a contrast that is to the average church member’s prayer, isn’t it? Did you ever hear this little parody of the church member’s prayer? “God bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four, no more, Acts 2:4. Amen.”
That’s about as far as some Christians ever get in their praying—“Lord, bless me, help me, heal me, I need, I want, give me now, help, quick.” The majority of Christians are living in the depths of their own need, not in the abundance of God’s supply. Paul said:
God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to [all] good works: ...
I compare the church to a lifeboat that is launched to save the survivors from a ship that has sunk. And there are twelve men in the lifeboat and they set out, but by the time they reach the scene of the wreck the boat has sprung so many holes that out of twelve men, eleven are bailing. And every now and then the twelfth man is able to lean over and grab some poor sinking struggling seaman and lift him into the lifeboat. But the moment he gets there they set him to bailing with the rest. And the majority of the people are just going down because there are too many holes in the ship for the seamen to be rescued. As long as we live in our need, we really cannot minister to the needs of others. We’ve got to take a step of faith out of need into abundance—spiritual, material, financial, physical abundance. That’s where we ought to be living in Christ.
Then when we live there the world will listen to our testimony. What’s the good of telling the world we believe in divine healing when eighty percent of us are sick? What good does that do? I believe God owns all the cattle on ten thousand hills, but you don’t have enough money to do the things God directs you to do. Your testimony is belied by the life you live.
All right, verse 2, we come to the first specific topic for prayer.
For kings, and for all that are in authority; ...
Summing it up in one word I say government. Our primary prayer obligation is not for the sick, the shut-ins, the missionaries, the evangelists, the pastor—it’s for the government. That comes before all other prayer obligations. I think you’ll agree with me, over ninety percent of Christian congregations either don’t pray for the government at all, or they do not pray for the government first.
It’s such a blessing—I went to a church in Van Nuys, California, which is known as The Church By The Way, actually it’s the first Four Square Church pastored by Jack Hayford—it’s the church that Pat Boone and his family attend. And the pastor told me, he said, “Wednesdays we start our prayer meeting at 7:14.” I said, “Why 7:14?” He said 2Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
He said, “We meet at 7:14, we don’t have any preliminaries, we immediately start to pray for our government and our nation.” That’s obedience to the Word of God, and God blesses it. All right, going on in verse 2, what are we to pray for when we pray for the government?
…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Let me ask you this; does the government you live under affect the life you lead? Yes. So it would be enlightened common sense to pray for the government. I hear a certain measure of discontent here about the price of real estate and housing. Did you ever stop to pray? Do you know that God can change a government that isn’t doing what He wants? Somebody said, “They’ve got another two years.” Not if God intervenes. Believe me they needn’t have another two months.
Now I’m not preaching against the government. I don’t know enough about it, but we do not have to endure wrong government. There is a way to change it, and it’s not by complaining. If you would take the time you’ve spent complaining and use it for prayer, you’d see a change. You’d have less to complain about. All right, so we are to pray that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Now to sum it up, I believe this is the function of good government—to create and maintain a situation in which private citizens can lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. They must maintain law and order, but they must not unduly interfere with the rights of private citizens. There’s the exact balance in the Word of God.
All right. The first thing we have to do is pray, the first specific topic of prayer is the government, the things that we’re to pray for is good government. Are you with me? I hope you are. All right, verse 3:
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; ...
What’s this? Well, having been a teacher of English, I know that thisrefers to the immediately preceding subject, which was what? Good government. So we find good government is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” Or more simply, good government is the will of God. Do you believe that? See, you can sit there and say “Amen,” but you work on it, because you’ll be tested. I believe Christians have got to settle three questions about the will of God. I’ve had to settle all three myself. Number one: Is sickness the will of God or is health the will of God? I believe health is the will of God for every child of God. And when I came to believe that I was sick in hospital and doctors couldn’t cure me, so I had to make it work. That’s what I mean when I say it’s easy to sit in a church and say “Amen,” but you get out in the battlefield and make it work.
The second question I think Christians need to ask this: Is poverty the will of God or is prosperity the will of God? Now my conclusion is prosperity is the will of God for His people. I find that poverty is a curse. To me, there’s nothing glamorous nor holy about poverty, and if you need poverty to keep you holy, I question whether you’re very holy in the first place.
All right, the third question we have to settle: Is good government the will of God or is bad government the will of God? Now I say good government is the will of God. But I find most Christians in America, both Canada and the States, talk and act as if they were resigned to bad government. That’s their attitude. It’s going to be corrupt, inefficient, wasteful, and quite possibly unjust. That’s not what God’s Word says. God’s Word says His will is good government. And in the fourth verse Paul gives us one conclusive reason why good government is the will of God. It says:
[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Now I believe, and I’m sure that most of you do believe, that a man cannot be saved unless he comes to the knowledge of the truth. He must believe in Jesus Christ, and in order to believe in Jesus Christ, the message of Jesus Christ must be preached. “How shall they hear except one preach?” the apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 10. So I believe it’s the will of God for the gospel to be preached to every nation, to every creature. Do you believe that? Matthew 24:14:
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations…
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
I believe the consistent testimony of the New Testament is that God wants the gospel preached to every nation and every creature. You believe that? All right. Now I’ll ask you one question. Which makes it easier to preach the gospel—good government or bad government? Any sensible person must answer good government. We don’t need to have a whole explanation, but it’s clear that good government facilitates the preaching of the gospel, bad government in one of various ways hinders the preaching of the gospel. So God wants the gospel preached, therefore He wants good government.
All right. Let’s go through this now from the beginning.
The first ministry of Christians meeting in assembly is prayer.
The first specific topic of prayer is the government.
The thing we are to pray for is good government. Good government is the will of God. Why? Because God wants the gospel preached to all men and good government facilitates the preaching of the gospel. Are you with me? You’d better be.
Okay, now let’s turn to the first epistle of John chapter 5 verses 14 and 15. Here is another principle of prayer, 1John chapter 5 verses 14 and 15:
And this is the confidence that we have in him [God], that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Two statements—first of all, we have complete confidence that if we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the thing that we asked for. All right? But you have to understand that there’s a principle involved. There’s the transaction of receiving the answer to your prayer, there’s the experience of actually entering into it. And they are not necessary simultaneous. So I want to bring out another principle of prayer in Mark 11:24:
Therefore I say unto you [it is Jesus speaking], What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them [and the Greek says believe that you received them], and ye shall have them.
Now the question is this. When do you receive what you pray for? When you pray for it. That’s right. Receiving happens when you pray. Having follows. Believe that you received and you shall have, but the receiving by faith happens at the moment you pray. So if you pray in faith, you walk out having received the thing you prayed for. The manifestation of what you’ve received may follow later. You know that chorus:
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever…
There’s another version of it. It says this:
When you pray, when you pray,
Do you pray believing?
Do you pray the Bible way,
Asking and receiving.
That’s the Bible way. So when you pray then you receive. Having follows.
Now let’s look at one other principle which is in James chapter 1 and we won’t go into the background, just take the principle. James 1 verse 6:
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
If you waver, if you’re uncertain, if one day you believe it’s God’s will and the next day you’re not sure, God says something very, very strong. He says, “Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” The waverer in prayer gets nothing.
Now let’s apply these truths going through 1Timothy 2, 1John 5, Mark 11 and James 1, and we have a logical application. If we ask anything according to God’s will, knowing it is God’s will, we know that He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petitions that we desire.
All right, now we know that good government is according to the will of God. So if we pray for good government we know two things—first of all, we know God hears us; secondly, we know that we have what we prayed for which was, what? Good government. Now bear in mind that receiving your prayer and experiencing the answer may be separate in time. But when you pray, knowing that you’re praying according to the will of God, then you have a right to receive what you prayed for at that moment. But God warns us, if you doubt in your heart, if you waver, if you’re not certain, if you think today it may be and tomorrow perhaps it won’t, then you won’t receive anything.
All right, so good government is the will of God. If we pray for anything according to God’s will we know that He hears us, we know that we have it. So if we pray for good government we know that He hears us, we know that we have it. Then why don’t we have good government? What’s the reason? We didn’t pray. Did you hear that? Was that right? It is.
Now there may be one other reason. There’s one other possibility—we did pray, but wavering. We prayed without knowing that it was the will of God. You see, everything, in healing, in prosperity, in finance, and in government—the battle rages around the will of God. When you really know it’s the will of God then you’re unshakable, you’re irresistible. Everything must fall into line with what you pray. All right.
So you see that if there is good government in a nation or in a province, who’s responsible? The Christians, that’s right. That’s really the truth. I believe it emphatically with all my heart. You say, “Brother Prince, that’s very strong language.” Well the Bible is a strong book. I could show you many Scriptures that line up with that. What about Matthew 5:13? “Ye are the salt of the earth.” What does salt do? Let me tell you two things—number one, it gives flavor to something that otherwise would lack flavor; number two, it restrains and holds back the working of corruption. For instance, in days before refrigeration when sailors went on a long voyage, they wanted to preserve their meat, what did they do? Salted it. All right. So we are the salt of the earth. We’re to give the earth flavor, in whose nostrils, in whose mouth? God’s. That’s right.
We are here to commend the earth to God. God deals with the earth in continuing mercy and not in judgment. Why? Because we are here. It’s our presence that makes the difference. Some of you people don’t realize how important you are. Oh how it grieves me to hear people say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace. I don’t amount to much.” You’re wrong. You amount to a great deal. You’re a child of God; you’re the center of His plan. Don’t underestimate yourself, don’t criticize yourself. It isn’t holiness, it’s unbelief. If you criticize yourself as a child of God, you’re criticizing God’s handiwork because the Bible says you’re the workmanship of God. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?” That’s not your business.
All right. Just think about this. Let me give you two examples. First of all, Paul said, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” What is an ambassador? He’s someone who represents one government in the territory of another government. Isn’t that right? He’s an official representative. Behind him is all the authority of the government he represents. As long as he stays within the limits of the orders of his government, the government accepts total responsibility for everything he says and does. The entire armed might of his government is behind every word he speaks and every act he makes.
All right. We are the representatives of which government? Heaven’s government, that’s right. Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” So we are here on earth as representatives of heaven’s government. And you know what the last act of one nation is before it declares war on another? What is it? To withdraw the ambassador, that’s right. The United States would never willingly declare war on Russia as long as its ambassador is in Moscow. And I believe that as long as we remain in the earth, the full outpouring of divine wrath and judgment on the earth will not take place. But earth, when we leave, look out! Our presence is decisive. It’s true in small things.
God saved me when I was in the British army, a godless, blaspheming, drinking soldier; and after that everywhere I went God dealt in a special way with the units I was with. I was in North Africa for two years with an armored division, with a medical company, and they never lost one casualty in two years. And in the middle of action when danger was near, those blaspheming soldiers would come to me and say, “Corporal Prince, I’m glad you’re with us.”
Later on, when I worked in a military office and the Sixteenth General Hospital on the Mount of Olives, I remember a soldier walking into the office and using a filthy swearword, and he turned and looked at me. I didn’t say a word to him. He blushed scarlet and said, “Corporal Prince, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were here.” That’s what it is to be the salt of the earth. It’s to make a difference. If we don’t make a difference, we’re salt that’s lost it savor. And what happens to that? Jesus told us it’s good for nothing but one thing—what?—to be cast out and to be trampled under foot of men.And Jesus said men, and He meant men.
There are instances in history when a saltless church has been handed over by God and trampled under foot by men. That’s why Islam rules the Middle East, because the church in North Africa lost its salt, and God said, “All right, I’ll send the Moslems against you.” And they surely trampled the church under foot. And the church in North America is in grave danger of being handed over by God to godless feet that will rejoice to trample us under. And when it happens you know the bitterest reflection of all, will be this—it need never have happened. We could have saved it.
I’ve quoted to you another Scripture—2Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
God promises to heal the land in which His people live if they will meet His conditions. So if our land is not healed, whose is the fault? God’s or ours? My conviction is we failed to meet God’s conditions.
I think about Abraham interceding for Lot, and you remember the story in the 18thchapter of Genesis God said, “I’m on my way to see what’s wrong with Sodom. I’ve heard such awful reports, and I’m planning to destroy the city.” And Abraham remembered his nephew, Lot, and he wanted to spare Lot the judgment of God, and he began to plead with God and he said, “God, if there were fifty righteous persons there, would You spare the city?” God said, “I would.” So Abraham said, “What about forty?” God said, “All right, I’ll spare it for forty.” Abraham said, “Thirty?” God said, “Thirty.” Abraham said, “Twenty, Lord?” The Lord said, “Twenty.” And Abraham said, “Let me just say once more Lord, what about ten?” And God said, “I’ll spare the entire city for the sake of ten righteous men if I find them there.” He didn’t find ten, and He didn’t spare the city.
I’ve been interested in that. I’ve searched and tried to find out the probable population of Sodom. I’ve consulted with friends who are experts, and I think that it’s a reasonable figure that it was not less than ten thousand persons. So what proportion does that give us?—one in a thousand. One righteous person can save judgment on a thousand. What’s the population of Canada?—twenty-one million. Now some mathematician—how many Canadian Christians are needed? I mean it’s hard for me to do it, you know. What’s twenty-one million divided by a thousand?—it’s twenty-one thousand isn’t it? Yes, twenty-one thousand. Isn’t that fantastic? If those proportions are correct, twenty-one thousand little grains of salt, Christians that count for God, scattered up and down this nation, can save it from divine destruction. Do you believe that? I believe that’s true. And if it doesn’t happen, those twenty-one thousand grains of salt have lost their savor.
Now I’ve discovered something. Because of a certain type of ministry and preaching, some of God’s people are afflicted with a disease which I call fatalism. “Brother Prince, doesn’t the Bible say that everything’s going to get worse?” My Bible doesn’t as far as I know. It says, “Wicked men and seducers will wax worse and worse.” But if you’re not a wicked man or seducer, that doesn’t apply to you. My answer is the Bible says some things will get worse and some things will get better. And my personal testimony is “I’m one of the things that’s getting better.” But there is, particularly among Pentecostals and Fundamentalists, there’s an attitude of fatalism because of their interpretation of prophecy. My dear brother, Charles Simpson, as a Southern Baptist pastor said, “I preached apostasy so long I got what I preached.” Brothers, I’m not waiting for the Antichrist—I’m waiting for the Christ.
Charles said, “My picture of the rapture was: the church would be expiring at it’s last gasp and Jesus would descend from heaven, carry her away upwards and give her artificial respiration on the way to the marriage supper.” Well, that isn’t what the Bible says. It says that Jesus is coming for a glorious, spotless, holy, united church. As Brother David Shock said, one day he realized suddenly that Jesus wasn’t coming back for a haggard old crone walking around with a cane. You can laugh, but you see, I know from experience I’ve got to shake people out of that attitude, because as long as you think it’s not good why pray. It’s all going to get worse, you won’t pray.
Look, I’ll ask you a question. I know that the power of evil is getting stronger and stronger. Few people probably have more direct encounters than I do with the power of evil. But I’ll tell you something else—the power good is getting stronger and stronger too. I believe it’s happening this way. Jesus said:
Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is un[holy], let him be un[holy] still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
And I believe the stillmeans “still more.” If you’re righteous be still more righteous, if you’re holy be still more holy, and if you’re filthy you’ll be still more filthy. The darkness is getting darker, the light is getting brighter. And you can decide which way you focus your attention. You can focus on the dark and talk about that, or you can focus on the light and talk about the light. But Proverbs 4:18 says this:
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
If you are walking in the pathway of righteousness, the light is getting brighter on your path every day. Now I’ll ask you this question: Do you believe that the power of evil in the earth will ever become so strong that God will no longer be able to keep His promises? No. Well then, there you are. All we have to be concerned with is the promise of God. Blow the antichrist. As Brother Mattson says, “In order to preach the gospel you don’t have to be so well informed that you know who’ll be the mayor of Chicago during the reign of the Antichrist.” Some people have got to get all of those prophetic details straightened out before they can do anything for God. I believe the initiative in all world affairs is with the church. God, the angels and the world wait for us.
All right, now I’m going to take a few other ways to try and persuade you of the validity of what I’ve said. The next thing I want to say is that God’s authority is supreme in the universe, and in particular that God rules over rulers and governs governments. Let’s look quickly Psalm 22 verse 28:
For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.
God governs all nations. Psalm 103 verse 19:
The Lordhath [established] his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
The kingdom of God rules over all other forces in the Universe. Matthew 28:18:
Jesus came and [said to his disciples: Half the authority in heaven and earth is given unto me. Is that what He said? That’s how a lot of you act. He said:] All [authority] is given unto me in heaven and on earth. [What did He say next?] Go ye therefore, ...
You’ve doubtless heard it said that when you find a thereforein the Bible you want to find out what it’s there for.Why did Jesus say, “Go therefore?” Because all authority had been given to Him. He said, “Go and exercise My authority. Act on the basis that the authority belongs to Me. If I’ve told you to go and preach the gospel to every nation, you can do it, because the authority to enable you to do it is vested in Me.” Ephesians 1 tells us this:
[That he’s exalted] ... far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named,[He’s far above all other authority. And the next thing it says is he’s] ... the head over all things to the church, which is his body, ...
We ought never to separate those. The same one who rules the universe is head of the church. He never gives orders to the church which the church cannot carry out, because every time they come to a closed door or an impossible situation all they have to do is refer to the head and say, “Lord, you told us to do it. It’s up to you to make it possible,” and He will. Revelation 19:16, His name is: “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” That’s not empty language. It means that He rules kings and lords. They’re under His special control and rulership. So anytime we need a change of government, He can bring it about.
All right. Now then the next point, and I’m following my outline now, you might not have noticed it but I’m about halfway down the second page: God controls rulers for the good of His people. Turn to 2Corinthians 4:15 and look at it with your own eyes for a moment, just the first few words:
For all things are for your sakes…
Did you know that? The weather is for your sake, television is for your sake, electronics are for your sake, jet airplanes are for your sake, everything is for our sakes. God controls the whole universe to achieve His purposes for and through us. We’re the center of His purpose. All right? That includes governments and rulers. Psalm 75 verses 6 and 7:
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.
All right. God is the judge—all promotion comes from Him. Every ruler that’s raised up is raised up by God, and every ruler that has been raised up can be put down by God. They’re in His hands. Daniel chapter 2 verses 21 and following, a terrific passage.
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever:” Then Daniel makes seven statements about God. We’ll just list them and not look at all of them.
Number one: wisdom and might are His.
Number two: He changes the times and the seasons.
Number three: He removeth kings and setteth up kings.
Number four: He giveth wisdom unto the wise and knowledge to them that know understanding.
Number five: He revealeth the deep and secret things.
Number six: He knoweth what is in the darkness.
Number seven: And the light dwelleth with him.
There are seven statements about God’s omnipotence and omniscience. We don’t have time to look at all of them but look at the first three. “Wisdom and might are His”: in God are united the wisdom to know what to do and the power to do it. Praise the Lord.
Secondly, “He changeth times and seasons.” We don’t have to live under the same time or season. If we pray God will change it. It it’s a time of depression, God can change it. If it’s a time of inflation, God can change it. If it’s a time of racial tension, God can change it. It doesn’t have to stay the way it is.
Thirdly, and very closely related with those, “He removeth kings and sets up kings.” All rulers are put in place by God, all rulers, not some but all. And more amazingly still in Daniel 4:17, without going into the background, just taking the statements:
This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
You’ll notice that God wants all men to know that He rules in the kingdom of men and that He gives it to whom He will, and He gives it to the basest of men at times. You say, “Why?” And the answer is: As a judgment on His people. When God’s people deserve it, He gives them cruel, evil rulers. It’s one main way of judging His people. And then they complain but they don’t change.
There’s a very clear example in the book of Daniel, it’s Nebuchadnezzar—a violent, vicious, cruel, idolatrous man. And yet the entire kingdom of Judah was put at his mercy, all the surrounding nations. And God told those nations through the prophet Jeremiah: “You better submit to Nebuchadnezzar, because if you don’t you’re in for more trouble.” He said, “I’ve given him all the kingdoms and even the beasts of the field.” And you say, “Why would God do that with a man like Nebuchadnezzar?” The answer is: God had warned His people for two centuries by prophet after prophet after prophet. They refused to listen, they refused to obey, they refused to submit to His authority. He said, “All right, I’ll turn Nebuchadnezzar on you. See how you like him. That’s the alternative.”
You see, if we have evil government what do we do? We repent. That’s the key. Not complain, not necessarily agitate, but repent. God can change the government. In the book of Daniel, this is one of the main themes, it shows us two ways God can change. God can replace an evil ruler by a good ruler. Belshazzar transgressed and offended, God blotted him out. He said, “You’ve been weighed in the balances and found wanting. You’re finished.” That night his kingdom was taken from him, he was killed and God raised up Cyrus who was favorable to God’s people and initiated the restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the temple. God changed the ruler when His people prayed.
Or, this is remarkable. God can change an evil ruler to make him a good one. God did that with Nebuchadnezzar. When Daniel and his friends prayed, the heart of Nebuchadnezzar changed and he became favorable to the Jews, he promoted them. He studied their interests. There’s two ways God can do. He can put down one ruler and raise up another, or He can change the heart of a ruler.
We had a situation in Kenya in east Africa years back when I was a missionary there, where the missionaries dreaded the very mention of the name of Jomo Kenyatta, whom they considered to be responsible for Mau Mau. But when Jomo Kenyatta became the first—and up till now, the only—president of Kenya, he became one of the wisest, fairest, and most enlightened rulers that’s emerged on the continent of Africa. And distinctively favorable to the gospel. He has officially invited missionaries to bring the message of Jesus Christ to every government school in Kenya. There’s a most remarkable example of God changing the heart of a ruler. And I’ll tell you, if time permits at the end of this message, why and how it happened because I was there when the decisive thing happened that changed it. Can you see the truth? Rulers are put there by God.
All right. Let’s look at Romans 13 verses 1 through 5. You say, “Brother Prince, that’s all in the Old Testament.” Wait till you hear the New. I’m going to read this in the New English BibleVersion and I’m going to read it out of my book because it’s quoted there in that version, because it’s so clear and vivid.
Every person must submit to the supreme authority. There is no authority but by act of God: and the existing authorities are instituted by him. Consequently anyone who rebels against authority is resisting a divine institution: and those who so resist have themselves to thank for the punishment they will receive. For government a terror to crime has no terrors for good behavior. You wish to have no fear of the authorities, then continue to do right and you will have their approval: For they are God’s agents working for your good. But if you are doing wrong, then you will have cause to fear them. It is not for nothing that they hold the power of the sword, for they are God’s agents of punishment for retribution on the offender. That is why you are obliged to submit. It is obligation imposed not merely by fear of retribution, but by conscience.
Then I’ll read the next paragraph which is my comment.
Out of this passage we may select three statements that are particularly significant. Number one, “There is no authority but by act of God.” Number two, “They, the authorities, are God’s agents working for your good,” (or alternatively), Number three, “They are God’s agents of punishment.” Paul addresses these words specifically to Christians. He states that government is established by an act of God. How that government will affect Christians will depend on the attitude and conduct of the Christians. If they are walking in obedience to the will of God, then the government and its officers “are God’s agents working for their good.” But if Christians are disobedient and not walking in the path of God’s will, then the government and its officers become “God’s agents of punishment.” This may all be summed up in one brief sentence: Christians get the kind of government they deserve.
All right, so now you know what you’ve deserved. Okay, let’s look at one other thing. If it’s our responsibility to pray and when we pray God will change governments, and we’re to pray rulers into office, then one thing we need to know is the kind of ruler that we should pray for. And I want you to see that God’s Word tells this very simply, very clearly in 2Samuel chapter 23 the first few verses. I’ll read the first 4 verses:
Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The spirit of the Lordspake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
Those are the requirements—very, very simple—twofold—the ruler must be just or righteous, a man of personal integrity and honesty and uprightness, and he must rule in the fear of God. And wherever a ruler like that is raised up the next verse tells us of the blessings that he will bring:
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
That’s the kind of blessing that a good ruler will bring to the people whom he rules.
Now turn with me for a moment to the book of Proverbs and let me give you just a few quick verses from Proverbs chapters 28 and 29, which really might have been written by somebody who’d been through the whole Watergate affair. Proverbs 28 verse 2, I’m just going to take a few quick abstracts.
For the transgression of a land many are the rulers thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.
One man of understanding and knowledge can prolong the state of those whom he rules. When Governor Wallace sent this book to each of the fifty governors, I wrote the name of each governor, signed it with my name and gave them Proverbs 28:2. I just hope they looked at it. One man of understanding and knowledge can change the whole course of history, if he’s in the right place at the right time. I think Abraham Lincoln is a man who’s an obvious example of that truth. Moving on to Proverbs 29 verse 2:
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
Is that true?—it surely is. All right—verse 4:
The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts [or bribes] overthroweth it.
[Verse 8:] Scornful men bring a city into a snare [or set it on fire]: but wise men turn away wrath.
One of the problems that we face in the United States is that so many of the men that control the mass media are scornful men. They’re cynical, sarcastic, negative and destructive. And I really believe they brought the city of Washington, D.C., into a snare. They’ve set it on fire. It’s legitimate to make fair comment, but I would say today no matter which party or what man is President of the United States, he’s subject to the most vicious, unfair, biased, cruel comments and criticisms. And the people that do that are destroying the whole institution. If ever there was a city that has been brought into a snare by scornful men, it’s the city of Washington, D.C.
[Verse 12—this really is too good to be true, but it’s there:] If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.
And you know what The Living Biblesays? “All the aides on his staff are wicked.” If God didn’t have the last word before it was ever said, you see…
But we’re responsible, friends, it’s our fault. We’ve been negligent, we’ve been slack, we’ve been negative. In my experience, and I’ve preached this message one way or another for several years, unless Brother Prince has been there—and I don’t want to seem arrogant—but it’s a matter of experience. Unless I’ve been there, less than five percent of any congregation regularly and intelligently pray for their rulers and their government. I say, “Who do you leave it to do it for you? The Communist party?”
All right, now. Enough of preaching; let me give you two quick examples that I believe are evidence of the truth. I’m not preaching a theory. I’m preaching something that I believe, I’ve practiced, I’ve seen it work. I know it works. Let me tell you, first of all, I was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in an army barrack room in the British Army in July 1941, in the county of Yorkshire in England. Do we have any Yorkshire people here tonight? God bless Yorkshire. Thank you.
Very shortly after that I was sent overseas with the First Armored Division of the British Army and spent the next two years in north Africa. And I was present in the longest retreat in the history of the British Army, which was from a place in Tunisia called El Algheila to a place fifty miles west of Cairo called El Alamein. Seven hundred fifty miles of continuous retreating becomes monotonous and demoralizing to say the least.
Let me say, that though I myself was a conscientious objector and never got above the dizzy heights of Corporal—which was through a mistake in the Army procedure anyhow—and let me also startle you by saying I was a Corporal Cook. But anyhow, be that as it may, I am the son of an entirely military family. Every male relative I’ve ever known has been an officer in the British army. My father was a Colonel, my uncle was a Brigadier, my grandfather was a General; so I do know something about army officers. And as the son of an army officer, I was disgusted with the conduct and attitude of the officers in the British forces at that time. And I’ll say this publicly anywhere—they were selfish, irresponsible and failed to command the respect of the men under them.
One of the big problems in the desert was shortage of water. We were allowed one water bottle for two days for every use—drinking, cooking, shaving, washing and everything. Yet, every night in their mess, the officers would mix with their whiskey more water than all the men had for all their purposes. Well, you can’t do that and have the respect of the men you command.
So, newly saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit, put in this depressing, demoralizing condition, I felt a tremendous burden of responsibility to do something about it. Let me also say that God showed me in the first few weeks that I became a Christian, that fasting is a normal part of Christian discipline. And for two years in the north African desert I fasted regularly every Wednesday. Battle or no battle, no matter what happened, I fasted.
So as I’ve tried to pray for that situation I thought to myself, How can I ask God to bless rulers or leaders that are so unworthy and ineffective?And I thought, God, show me how to pray.And after a while I felt that God gave me this prayer. “Lord, give us leaders such that it will be for Your glory to give us victory through them.” And from then on, for several months I prayed that prayer regularly.
Well, then the British troops gathered at El Alamein to make a kind of last stand to save Cairo, the Suez Canal and Palestine. The Commander-in-Chief was removed, the British government chose another man to take his place, whose name was Gott (who was a Brigadier up at the front line and had been very unsuccessful in his command as a Brigadier). He was flown back to Cairo to take command, his plane crashed on landing; he was thrown out and killed. And at that critical moment there was no Commander-in-Chief for the British forces in the most active and vital theatre of the war. And at that juncture Winston Churchill, acting more or less on his own initiative, chose a little-known commander in Britain and had him flown out to the Middle East. His name was Bernard Montgomery.
Now I’ll say two things about Montgomery, I served under him. Number one: he is a sincere, dedicated Christian. Number two: he is a fantastic disciplinarian. And in two months he had those officers straightened out like nobody’s business. I would like to take time to tell you, but I can’t. Having restored discipline and received fresh supplies, he fought the Battle of El Alamein, which was the first major victory in the war for the Allies and was the turning point of the whole war in north Africa. From then on, the whole tide of war turned.
I was present behind the lines at the Battle of El Alamein, and about two days later I was in the desert with an army lorry, and on the tailboard—army truck—on the tailboard was a portable radio, and we were listening to a commentator describing the preparations at Montgomery’s headquarters the night before the Battle of El Alamein was joined. And the commentator described how General Montgomery came out and called all his officer’s men together and said, “Let us ask the Lord, mighty in battle, to give us the victory.” And when I heard those words, standing there in the desert, if you understand me, heaven’s electricity went through me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. And God spoke very quietly to my spirit and said, “That is the answer to your prayer.” Praise God!
Now, some people may say, “Well, that’s arrogant. I’m sure there were other people praying.” But even if one person prayed, and prayed the prayer of faith and met God’s conditions, God has committed Himself to answer. You’ve only got two alternatives about prayer. You must be in one or the other. Either God answers prayer or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t answer prayer, it’s foolish to pray, and if He does answer prayer it’s foolish not to pray. I believe He answers prayer. That’s my firm conviction.
Now I’ll relate one other incident. The time is not yet too late, and then I’m finished. I realize you’ve sat here a long while, but I want to get through this. The other example happened in east Africa when I was a missionary of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, in charge of their teacher training college at Nyang'ori, seven miles northeast of the northeast tip of Lake Victoria Nyanza and there are probably some here tonight who can remember me in that capacity. Now Kenya had been torn apart by the Mau Mau revolution which I will not describe in detail, but it was a bloody, horrible, degraded bestial antichristian thing. And it had torn apart the largest, most influential tribe, the Kikuyu, and it alienated and caused division amongst several other tribes and had turned whites against blacks, and blacks against whites. At that point, the Belgium Congo, to the west of Kenya, received its independence—inadequately prepared by Belgium—and was immediately plunged into a long series of bloody civil wars which really have not finished, even to this day.
Many of the missionaries who were in the Congo escaped eastwards into Kenya and carried with them the most distressing reports of the atrocities and the cruelties and the horrors that they’d witnessed. At that time, Kenya was scheduled to receive independence from Britain and received it about two or three years later. And all the political experts predicted that Kenya would go the same way as the Belgian Congo, but worse, because it was already bedeviled with the Mau Mau problem.
In 1960 in western Kenya at a place called Awasi, I was one of about four or five missionaries ministering at a retreat for young Africans, mainly students and teachers. We had about two hundred young Africans gathered there. The retreat lasted a week, closing on a Sunday. On the closing Sunday evening a message was brought by Brother Paul Hawks, who’s probably known to some of you here, and the meeting as it were came to a normal ending, after about two hours. But at that point the Holy Spirit moved in and sovereignly took control of that meeting, and the meeting lasted another two hours under no human control, and practically every person—something over two hundred persons—was praying in that after-meeting.
At one point I was down in the body of the hall and I had the impression that we had touched God, that His power was available to us. And as I came to that conclusion, God spoke quietly to me—now forgive me, and bear in mind that I was a Pentecostal missionary at the time and still am—but God said this, “Don’t let them make the same mistake that Pentecostals have made so often by squandering My power in spiritual self-indulgence. Tell them to pray for the government of their nation.” And I made my mind up to do that, got up and started to walk up to the platform, and my wife who was there, put out her hand and stopped me. And I said, “What is it?” And she said, “Tell them to pray for Kenya.” I said, “That’s what I was going to the platform to do.” And then I knew out of the mouths of two witnesses that I had the mind of the Lord.
So I got to the platform and I quieted the whole group of people and I told them in simple outline in a few words what I’ve been telling you that’s it’s the responsibility of Christians to pray for their government. I told them that their nation was facing the greatest crisis in its history, and that if bad government gained control, Christians would be the first to suffer. And therefore, it was both in their interest and their divine responsibility to pray for their nation’s government and its future. And when I had said that, I led them in prayer.
Now when Africans pray, they really pray. That’s one thing I’ll say. They don’t stand on nice ceremonies and they don’t wait for one another. They all pray, and about two hundred people were all praying aloud at the same time. It sounded like the noise of many waters. It swelled to a crescendo and came to a dead stop, supernaturally. And as I stood there watching those African people, there was a young man beside me who was a graduate from our teacher training college. His name is Wilson Mamboleo. He had been the interpreter for the previous missionary who preached. He stood up and he said to me, “I would like to tell them what God showed me.” And I realized that God had given him a vision while we were praying. So I said, “Tell them.”
Now Africans are very simple when they describe a vision. They don’t use a lot of spiritual language. They just talk about it like talking about what they’d eaten for supper. And he said, “While we were praying I saw a red horse coming toward Kenya from the east, and it was very fierce and there was a very black man riding on it. And behind it were other horses, also red, and also fierce.” But he said, “While we were praying I saw those horses turn round and move away from Kenya toward the north.” And he said, “I asked God what that meant and God gave me this answer.” This is in my book. And last summer, by divine appointment, I met with Wilson Mamboleo and I checked with him personally, and he confirmed every detail of what I’ve said. He said God told him this. “Only the supernatural power of the prayer of My people can turn away the troubles that are coming upon Kenya.”
Well, two and a half years later, Kenya received its independence. A government was duly elected, Jomo Kenyatta was elected president. Within a few weeks, a bloody rebellion broke out in the Island of Zanzibar, which is east of Kenya, the sultan was overthrown and killed, the rebellion was organized and carried out by Communists trained in Cuba by Castro. They even spoke Spanish.
From Zanzibar it spread to Tanzania, which is south of Kenya on the east coast, Tanzania was to some measure infiltrated and taken over by Communists, and they moved up from Tanzania into Kenya preparing and ready to take over Kenya and its army. And at that moment Jomo Kenyatta acted with remarkable courage and wisdom, and he turned completely against the invading Communists, enlisted the help of the British forces that remained in the country, drove them out and completely overthrew that Communist coup which was planned. And since then he has been in power as president ever since.
Now if we look at all the surrounding nations in that area, we find this—to the south, Tanzania is virtually controlled by Communist China. There are something like fifty thousand Communist technicians in that country primarily for political purposes. To the west, Uganda had had a long history of stable ineffective governments and is at present under a Moslem dictatorship. The dictator, General Amin, is seeking to make Islam the national religion of the nation, and thousands and thousands of Christians have been massacred and put to death and churches closed. A little further northwest is Ethiopia, which has had a weak and unstable government and is now viciously persecuting Christians, and to the north of Kenya is Somalia, which is virtually an armed Russian camp. And that’s where Wilson saw the red horses move to.
In the midst of all that, Kenya has maintained a comparatively stable, free and efficient government. It is favorable to the message of Christianity and is a center for training nationals for all the other nations round about. And, as I’ve said already, the president, Jomo Kenyatta, has officially invited the missionaries to teach the message of Christianity in every government school. As a matter of fact, do you know the problem? There aren’t enough Christians to do it. It’s not that the door is shut. There aren’t enough people to go through the open door. And basically you could say that out of about fifty nations that have emerged since World War II on the African continent, one of the most stable, most peaceful and most successful and most favorable to Christianity is Kenya, and that against all the forecasts of the experts. I say, What did it? My answer is: God’s people united in prayer according to Psalm 110, stretched out the rod of authority in name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and determined the destiny of their nation. And I believe you and I can do the same wherever we are.
Let me close by quoting to you what God told Wilson, because I believe it applies to almost every other nation on earth. “Only the supernatural power of My people can turn away the troubles that are coming on Kenya.” And I am sure you could put the United States in place of Kenya, and I see good reason to believe you could put Canada there. The question is, friends, are we going to accept our responsibility, rise to the challenge of the occasion, come together in divine order, obey the Word of God, and through our prayer bring the nations and their governments under the direction and into the fulfillment of God’s purpose for the close of the age? I believe that we can do it, and I challenge you to accept your responsibility.