Praying for Presidential Election


In a week's time, we'll be electing the ninth president for Singapore. Elder Caleb shares five ways we can pray for the upcoming election. 

By now, almost everyone knows who Tan Kin Lian, Ng Kok Song and Tharman Shanmugaratnam are.

These three men seek the highest office in the land as Singapore’s ninth president, and in a few days’ time the nation will go to the polls to decide who it should be.

Over the next week, we will hear many speeches by the candidates as they present themselves through their campaigns and hear their vision for the presidency and Singapore.

How then should we think about such matters as Christians? How can we pray for the upcoming presidential election?

As with all matters, we should listen to our conscience, think carefully, but have every thought weighed against what God has told us in His Word.

For the election of Singapore’s president, 1 Timothy 2:1-4 offers us wisdom on how to pray and think about secular and political leaders:

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

This scripture offers us at least five thoughts on how we can pray for the coming election:

First, make prayer for them a priority. The apostle says that such prayer for secular leadership is what he wants to address “first of all” with urging—signaling both the need and necessity of such prayer. As believers we should thus not think that matters of secular leadership are not relevant to Christian concern. While their leadership will not have an impact on our eternal destiny or present standing before the Almighty God, their leadership affects other matters, such as how Christians live and practise our faith in this land, and thus we bring it before God in petition.

Second, pray for them in different ways. 1 Timothy 2 uses four synonyms for the types of prayer we can offer up for our leaders: supplication (deesis—making petition or asking God to work through them), prayers (proseuche—to meet with God and draw strength from being in His presence), intercession (enteuxis—to ask of God on their behalf), and thanksgiving (eucharista—to express gratefulness to God) for them. Thus, we should pray often for them and in different ways—that God’s will be done in them or that they hinder not God’s purposes, or we can meet with God and bring our troubles, frustrations and unhappiness with politics before Him. We can pray for God on behalf of our leaders and what they want to achieve for the common good, or even thank God for them knowing that they govern only because a sovereign God allows them to.

Third, pray widely for the common good. Notice the different types of people we are to pray for: most broadly, for all people who make up society as citizens, for those with sovereign authority (like the Roman emperors and kings of Paul’s day), and other types of leaders in high positions—including lesser leaders in subsidiary roles. According to common grace, we should pray that God would work His will in the broadest sense of our society. How we all behave and conduct ourselves as part of society—what we say and how we treat our fellow man from the least to the greatest, including how we agree and disagree—God rules over it all.

Fourth, pray for peace (that is good for the gospel). Paul teaches us to pray that Christians, and people of all faiths, may be free to practise our religion in peace. Only in a well-governed society that respects the practices of religion can Christian believers gather for worship and pursue gospel godliness with dignity. These are petitions that please God when it comes to civic matters: that our leaders would have wisdom and moral courage to facilitate peace, stability and the freedom of religion. Pray that religious harmony and tolerance would be sustained, and that peace would be upheld in Singapore.

Five, pray that God would seek the lost through the public witness of believers. God’s desire is the salvation of sinners. And as Christians live our lives in the public eye, we can either draw people to Christ or repel them from Him. From 1 Timothy 2, the logic suggests that as we enjoy the peace and freedom to pursue godliness before the world, it is “good” and “pleasing” to God who works and wills the rescue of the lost through our witness (1 Tim 2:4). We should pray then, that how we act and behave in public matters or in political conversation would not stumble others, but draw them to Christ.

Thus as we approach the election season to come, while we have freedom for how to vote according to conscience, we also have clear guidance from Scripture for how to pray about such matters: pray as a priority, in different ways, for the common good, for peace that is good for the gospel and for God to seek the lost through our public witness.

So with gratitude, let us thank God for these candidates, and pray for a season of peace in Singapore as they pursue the office of President. Amen.