Elections aren’t everything, but they matter. And while Christians should caution themselves from banking all their hope in any one candidate’s agenda, elections, in fact, really matter. With every candidate comes a platform of policies that he or she hopes to see implemented. But policies are never relegated only to the abstract; no, policies have real-life consequences as the reforms sought are implemented across the state, affecting real people’s lives. This comes as no surprise to God—he planned government for these very reasons. Governments are ordained by God to ensure the stability of society, and to see justice executed. With the news of Matt Bevin’s victory in the November 3 gubernatorial race, now is a good time to commit to pray for Kentucky’s newly elected governor.
Christians are instructed to pray for their authorities and to show them honor, and these instructions aren’t predicated upon whether or not you agree with every official (1 Tim. 2:1-2). This is why Paul, despite living in a brutal and cruel empire ruled by imperialist Caesars, still insisted that his audience pray for those in authority. The command to pray for our leaders follows from our commission to be good citizens who seek the welfare of our communities. Here are three ways we should pray for our new governor.
1. Pray for his pursuit of wisdom.
Every governor has to weigh countless, sometimes competing actions. He or she has to determine what they think is best for their state or commonwealth. From helping craft a budget, to deciding which officials to install in lower government positions, to bracing for natural disasters and responding to them, a governor needs wisdom to manage these manifold tasks. Pray that Governor-elect Bevin will seek the Lord’s counsel and not just the counsel of men. Also pray that Governor-elect Bevin surrounds himself with counselors of integrity who are motivated to seek the good, and who flee from evil and corruption.
2. Pray for his pursuit of justice.
In the famous passage of Romans 13, Paul offers a treatise on why God instituted or ordained statecraft. According to Paul, God established the state to ensure the safety and stability of exercising justice. Thus, a governor is to seek policies that are by nature good and just. A governor is to safeguard his or her citizens by seeking their welfare and flourishing through the policies he or she seeks to implement.
This is particularly relevant in Kentucky for three reasons. First, for years, gambling interests have tried to expand predatory casino gaming, a practice that harms the poor, erodes communities, and corrupts government. Pray that Governor-elect Bevin will resist the temptation to resolve messy budget shortfalls through short-term gaming revenues. Second, despite Kentucky being an overwhelmingly pro-life state, government officials have served as the greatest obstacle to seeing commonsense reforms enacted concerning abortion. Thankfully, these voices are increasingly on the margins and Governor-elect Bevin has been a stalwart, vocal advocate for human dignity. Pray that Governor-elect Bevin will execute justice on behalf of the unborn and speak up in defense of those who cannot speak for themselves (Prov. 24:11). Third, Kentucky has gained national attention because of religious liberty on several occasions. From Governor Beshear’s 2013 veto of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act being overridden, thankfully, to the Kim Davis controversy, recent action on the part of government officials has shown how vulnerable religious liberty really is in Kentucky. Pray that Governor-elect Bevin will uphold the U.S. Constitution’s highest charter—the protection of religious liberty and conscience.
3. Pray for his safety and for his family.
Lastly, pray for the health and safety of Governor-elect Bevin. There will be individuals and movements that will disagree with his policies, and some who, God forbid, could seek to do him harm. Pray that God will hedge him in with protection.
Pray also for Governor-elect Bevin’s family. A governor’s vigilance doesn’t end until he’s out of office, which means a governor must be constantly attentive to the affairs of his or her state. Busy, stressful jobs like the governorship can easily and often conflict with family obligations. While Governor-elect Bevin bears the marks of both a true family man and statesmen, pray he is able to find the right work-life balance so he’s able to fulfill both responsibilities with success.
Andrew T. Walker serves as Director of Policy Studies for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is also a second year doctoral student in Christian Ethics at Southern Seminary.