How should the people of God use the spiritual weapons of prayer and faith to pull down the strongholds of pride and other evils in the lives of corrupt political and church leaders? First, Christians need to believe that God will answer such prayers because he has commanded them to prayer this way. This will enable them to pray strong prayers of faith which will have the effect of moving mountains of problems (Mk. 11:22-24). Their prayers should be based on the promises and commandments of the word of God (another spiritual weapon). Such prayers will be used by God to cause His will to be done in that government. This is exactly what God wants to accomplish through the prayers of his people.
Jesus taught his disciple to pray, ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Mt. 6:10). Why would Christians be taught to pray for God’s will to be done on earth if it was not God’s intention to answer such prayers? Christians should therefore pray something such as the following for their government: ‘God, cause your will to be done through this government as it is done in heaven – whatever it takes to make that happen’. It is so important that we pray for government leaders and official that God does not leave it up to us to think of this. He commands us to do it (Tim. 2:1-2). What would happen in a country if the people of every local church in that country were to devote one whole day each month to fasting and prayer for their government official? It is hard to predict exactly what would happen, but it is unquestionable that something very good for the people of that country would take place. Concerning prayer, the apostle James tells us, ‘you do not receive, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motive, that you may spend what you get on your pleasure’ (Jas. 4:2-3). The point is this. If the people of God learned to pray for the right things, with the right motives, they would see God do unbelievable things in response to their prayers. One of the great secrets of the Bible which the devil does not want Christians to understand is that God really will cause His will to be done on earth in response to their prayers.
As an example of this, God has commanded us to make disciple of all nations (Mt. 28:19) This commandment shows us one part of the will of God. But to make disciples, people must go to other people with the gospel. Hence we are commanded by Christ to pray for people to do this. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’ (Matthew 9:37-38). If we will obediently pray for such workers, God will raise up people to carry out the great commission and this part of God’s will can be done. In another example, God had already revealed through the prophet Jeremiah that the Hebrew people would return from Babylonian captivity 70 years after their captivity had begun (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10). Yet, when the time of captivity came to an end, God moved the man Daniel to pray that the Hebrews would indeed be restored to the holy city of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:2-3). In other words, God caused His will to be done in response to prayer even though God had already said that it would be done.
How do we discover God’s will in other matters so that we will know how to pray for the will of God to be done? By reading the word of God. The Bible reveals the will of God to us for every part of life. The Bible will not give us an answer to every specific question we may have such as, should I travel to such – and – such a city today? Instead, the Bible gives us principles and examples through stories of how the will of God applies to different parts of life. By following these principles and the examples of godly peoples, we will understand the will of God. In this way we will know how to pray about most situations. Even when we don’t know how to pray for a particular situation we have the following amazing promise from God. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, put the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Rom. 8:26-27)
It is the clearly revealed will of God that Christians should pray for their leaders. If we will pray for them, we can have faith that God will answer our prayers (1Jn. 5:14-15). If we will obediently pray for government and church leaders as we are commanded to do and if our hearts are free from known sin when we pray (Isa. 59:1-2), God will do something to answer our prayers in spite of how corrupt such leader may be. He may change the hearts or attitudes of such leaders, or he may bring judgment upon them for their evil doing, or he may remove them completely, but he will respond to our prayers in some way because he has promised to do so (Jn. 15:7; 16:23-24). As much as possible, it is helpful to be specific when praying for government or church leaders. It is good to pray that they will be effective leaders. It is even better to pray that they will be given the wisdom of God and the willingness to act on this wisdom, in order to care for the specific needs and problems in their administration. African governments have enormous problems in matters such as poverty, inadequate health care, unemployment, injustice and other things. In response to prayer, God can give leaders the wisdom to known how to deal with such problem and, most important, the will to act in the right way. Leaders often know what to do but they do not have the will to do it because of their sinful desires. The Holy Spirit can give them the motivation to do what is right in response to the church’s prayers. The Bible says, ‘for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose’ (Phil. 2:13).
In one African country recently, earnest prayer was made to God for the government to find a way to ease the problem of unemployment. After a few weeks, the government came out with an unusual policy which encouraged wealthy nationals who had left the country to return for the purpose of making investment and setting up new business. The policy offered such attractive financial advantages to do this that many nationals who had left the country began to return to set up businesses. This in turn had left effect of creating jobs for people and easing the burden of unemployment and poverty. It is also good to ask God to restrain government and church officials from evil tendencies and corrupt practices and, if necessary, to punish them if they persist in their evil doing. If we fail to pray as we have been commanded, we will only have ourselves to blame for increasingly evil and oppressive practices by such officials. When we do pray for government officials, God choose to answer our prayers in a way we did not expect. We may, however, pray with confidence that God will answer in his way and in his own time, since we are praying according to the specific command of Scripture.
In the case of corrupt church leaders, it may be necessary and right at certain times for church members to join together and remove such leaders if they refuse to repent of their corrupt practices. Leaders in the church of Jesus Christ are appointed by God to be servants, not to be kings. The apostle Peter wrote the following words to church leaders, “Be shepherds of God flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but being examples to the flock.” (1Pet. 5:2-3). When church leaders begin to use their position for selfish purposes rather than for serving God’s people, such leaders need to be disciplined or removed. The church should not tolerate corrupt church leadership.