Prayer for the Government and Those Under Authority

From Johann Gerhard (1582–1637), Meditations on Divine Mercy

Omnipotent, eternal, and merciful God, Lord of hosts, You remove kings and set up kings (Daniel 2:21). All powers in heaven and on earth are from You (Colossians 1:16). In heaven, the angels worship You, archangels praise You, thrones revere You. Governing authorities are subject to You and revere You, dominions serve You (Romans 13:1-4), the powers fear You. With these holy and most powerful spirits I join my payers, such as they are, and humbly ask You to fill our earthly government with the spirit of wisdom. Protect it with the strength of Your might. Support with Your grace all Christian rulers so the more they encounter danger because of their high position, the more they will experience the abundance of Your kindness. Kindle in their hearts the light of heavenly wisdom, so they recognize that they are subject to You, Lord of all, that they are Your vassals, and that one day they must give account for their governing.

May they strive for peace because they serve You, the Prince of Peace. May they strive for justice because they serve You, the most just Judge. May they strive to be merciful because they serve You, the kindest Father. May they be guardians of the Ten Commandments and of the Church, which is downtrodden in this world. May they show goodwill and correct judgment toward those under their authority. Draw their hearts away from the splendor of earthly and miserable power, so a forgetfulness of the heavenly kingdom and true piety does not creep up on them. Rule them by Your Holy Spirit so they do not become puffed up with pride and misuse the power granted to them. Grant that they carry out their official duties in such a way that they may rule without end in eternity with all the elect, and pass from the most fleeting glory of this age to the eternal glory of the heavenly kingdom. Prevent them from exercising tyranny over Your people so, after wearing glittering clothing and elegant gems, they do not descend, naked and wretched, to be tormented in hell.

You willed us to be subject to Your representatives. Grant to us obedient hearts. Make us ready to serve with complete willingness, so under the authority of Your representatives we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and virtue (1 Timothy 2:1). May we show honor and obedience to those whom we acknowledge as possessing authority and power over us. May we comply with their honorable commands, so by keeping these laws we may be partakers of true liberty. True liberty is, in short, to serve God, government, and law. O kindest God, may we honor with heart, word, and deed those whom You have willed to be Your representatives on earth. May the eyes of the government leaders be watchful and observant (Proverbs 20:8). May the ears of those under their authority be open and attentive. May the gates of heaven finally be open and unobstructed to both.

AMEN.

Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy (tr. Matthew C Harrison; St. Louis: CPH, 2003), 138–140.

Compare and contrast

1 Chronicles 16:23On Christian meditation

Specimen 1:

Sit down. Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. Then interiorly, silently begin to recite a single word – a prayer word or mantra. We recommend the ancient Christian prayer-word “Maranatha”. Say it as four equal syllables. Breathe normally and give your full attention to the word as you say it, silently, gently, faithfully and above all – simply. The essence of meditation is simplicity. Stay with the same word during the whole meditation and from day to day. Don’t visualise but listento the word as you say it. Let go of all thoughts (even good thoughts), images and other words. Don’t fight your distractions but let them go by saying your word faithfully, gently and attentively and returning to it immediately that you realise you have stopped saying or it or when your attention is wandering.

Silence means letting go of thoughts. Stillness means letting go of desire. Simplicity means letting go of self-analysis.

Meditate twice a day every day. This daily practice may take you sometime to develop. Be patient. When you give up start again. You will find that a weekly meditation group and a connection with a community may help you develop this discipline and allow the benefits and fruits of meditation to pervade your mind and every aspect of your life in ways that will teach and delight you. John Main said that ‘meditation verifies the truths of your faith in your own experience’

Meditation has the capacity to open up the common ground between all cultures and faiths today. What makes meditation Christian? Firstly the faith with which you meditate – some sense of personal connection with Jesus. Then the historical scriptural and theological tradition in which we meditate.

Also, the sense of community it leads to: ‘when two or three pray together in my name, I am there among them.’ And the other means by which our spiritual life is nourished – the other forms of prayer like scripture, sacraments and worship. Meditation does not replace other forms of prayer. Quite the reverse it revives their meaning. (‘What Is Meditation’ from The World Community for Christian Meditation.)

Specimen 2:

To meditation there belong the diligent and attentive search into Scripture, the study of the languages in which the Old and New Testaments were written, the reading of interpreters, engaging in debates, and other aids listed in their own place. (Johann Gerhard, On the Nature of Theology and on Scripture (CPH: 2009), p. 24.)