MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). Excerpt from his book Alone with God.
The benefit to praying for the lost is actually quite profound: “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2). Prayer for those in authority will create societal conditions favorable for the church’s evangelistic efforts. First of all, when believers are committed to praying for all their leaders, it removes any thought of rebellion or resistance against them. Instead, the people of Christ are turned into peacemakers, not reactionaries. As Paul wrote to Titus,
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another (Titus 3:1–3).
There Paul again calls the believers to tranquility and submissiveness to the pagan or apostate governments over them. We can do so because we understand that they are sinners like we used to be, incapable of righteousness.
When believers begin to pray unceasingly for the lost, especially their troublesome leaders, unbelievers begin to see Christians as virtuous, peace loving, compassionate, and transcendent, seeking after their welfare. Once unsaved people realize we pose no threat to society, it is easier for us to be treated as welcome friends. And as more come to saving faith through the prayers of Christians, the favorable conditions for the church could increase.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). Alone with God. MacArthur Study Series (137–138). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books. www.gty.org