Take five minutes today to reflect on the duty to pray for rulers, requested Pope Francis during the morning Mass at Santa Marta Residence, on September 18, 2017. “It’s a sin not to pray for rulers,” he warned.
In his homily, reported on Vatican Radio in Italian, the Holy Father commented on the day’s Readings, where Saint Paul recommends “supplications, prayers … for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-8) and where a Roman centurion implores Jesus to cure his slave (Luke 7:1-10).
This centurion, he noted, “felt the need to pray” because “he was aware that he was not the master of everything, that he was not the last resort.” On the contrary, he who “does not pray, shuts himself in his self-reference or in that of his party, in this circle that one can’t get out of; he is a man closed in on himself.”
A ruler should have “this consciousness of subordination,” he must remember “that there is another who has more power than him. Who has more power than a ruler? The people who gave him the power and God, from whom the power comes through the people. When a ruler has this consciousness of subordination, he prays.”
The ruler’s prayer, continued the Pope, “is the prayer for the common good of the people entrusted to him.” To unbelievers, he recommended: “If you can’t pray, consult . . . your conscience … wise men of your people . . . but don’t remain alone with the small group of your party.”
And the people must pray for all rulers without exception, stressed the Pontiff, preventing objections. “’No, I didn’t vote for him . . . let him do what he wants.’ No, we can’t leave rulers alone; we must accompany them with prayer. Christians must pray for rulers. “But Father, how can one pray for one who’s done so many bad things?’ ‘He has even greater need. Pray, do penance for the ruler.’”
“I ask you for a favor,” concluded Pope Francis, “that each one of you take five minutes today, not more. If he is a ruler, let him ask himself: “Do I pray for the one who gave me the power through the intermediary of the people?’ . . . If one is not a ruler, ‘Do I pray . . . for all rulers?’ When you do your examination of conscience to go to Confession, if you find that you’ve not prayed for rulers, bring that to Confession, because it’s a sin not to pray for rulers.”