I am a Christian and make no secret of this. I believe, whole heartedly, in the birth, death, resurrection and future return of Jesus Christ. I attended a Roman Catholic primary school and was brought up in Protestant churches. I have lost count of the number of churches I've regularly attended, but I'll take a stab at naming the denominations: Catholic, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Methodist, Non-denominational (independent), Anglican and Baptist. I currently attend a Pentecostal church, but I do not accept the label for myself. The only labels I generally accept are "Christian" and "believer (in Christ)". I advocate to all who will listen, that we have to look for, celebrate and preserve the things that bind us Christians together, and not those which pull us apart. After all, Jesus himself prayed that we all should be one, as he and the Father are one.
Why do I pray for the Pope? Not because I consider him to be my leader, or the successor to St. Peter, or the head of the church. Not because I believe in the exultation of Mary, prayer to saints and angels, or any of the usual doctrinal issues that separate a "Catholic" from a "Protestant". I pray for the Pope because he is a leader and is my brother in Christ. He professes to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the hope of salvation for himself and for the world, and this fact alone makes him my brother. The Pope wields enormous influence over large swathes of the world's population. He was named in 2014 by Twiplomacy as the most influencial person on Twitter, measured not just by the number of people following him (over 14 million) but by the number of times his tweets are retweeted (17,000 times per tweet). His words carry far and are heard by millions, and his opinions and decisions have the potential to affect the lives of so many, that it would simply be irresponsible not to pray for him.
The Apostle Paul wrote that we ought to pray for our leaders, and this injunction clearly extends to praying for both political and spiritual leaders; praying for them to speak and act with wisdom and to rule justly. I encourage all who share my faith to take some time each day to do just that. Pray for your local Councillor, your Mayor, your Governor, your Parliament, your President, your Prime Minister, your King, your Queen. Pray for your Pastor, your Priest, your Bishop, your Archbishop. Spend less time criticising without action, and more time praying. By all means speak up against injustice, folly and oppression but don't forget to petition the one who sits as King above all Kings.
When all is said and done, please do not neglect to pray for the Pope. Heaven knows he needs it.