Praying for All Men
Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-6
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Today, as I’m writing this, it is voting day in Oregon. Laura and I read through the Voter’s Pamphlet, made our choices, and this morning I deposited our mail-in ballots in the country drop box. It’s a great privilege to live in a free country, where we have the right to vote for candidates and various measures. But let me suggest to you that when it comes to influencing our society for good, we believers have been blessed with something far more powerful and effective than our right to vote.
The Apostle Paul wrote 1st Timothy sometimes between AD 62 and 64 (during the reign of evil emperor Nero). The book details Paul’s instructions to the young pastor, his child in the faith, to assist him in his pastoral ministry in Ephesus. A key passage is 1 Timothy 3:14b-15, “But I am writing these things to you so that…you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”
Note the priority given to the matter of prayer–” First of all” Paul said. The importance and priority of prayer is likewise emphasized in the call to varied kinds of prayer to fit varied needs and situations. –”supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings.” Such prayers are to be offered both for all people and for the kings and those in high positions. We are given the reason for which we are to pray–”that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2), the sense being that God will work through the prayers of His people to bring real change, such that they might experience peace within and without, and that they might be rightly oriented towards God (godliness) and others (dignity). We should note here that we should not expect these kinds of results, and in fact should anticipate the opposite, if we neglect to pray as we should.
Paul spoke of this devotion to prayer as a matter of first importance, and he did so in the context of that which precedes–” First of all, then” (1 Timothy 2:1). To what was he referring? He had just spoken of the need for Timothy to “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). We are at war! The long war against God and His children rages on. It is a war for souls. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood…(but) against the spiritual forces in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). To fight in this spiritual battle with human weapons is akin to what Peter did when he whacked off the ear of the high priest’s servant. “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:5). In prayer we possess a divinely powerful weapon through which God can work to change hearts and save souls.
And that’s the chief concern here in this passage. From its birth until the day it is raptured to heaven, the chief concern of the church is bearing witness to the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:8; 1 Timothy 3:14b-15). In fact, God is even now withholding judgment “not wishing that any perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We see the same thing here. We are exhorted to pray “for all people” because “God our Savior…desires all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:1,4). So, we pray, according to that which God desires. And that’s a challenge for me. It’s easy to get upset or angry or anxious or vindictive over some of the things we see happening in our country and world today. But such attitudes are contrary to who we are as believers and what we’ve been called to do. Sadly, the situation is as Ralph Earle has said, “The failure of the church to pray in accordance with this exhortation is one of its great sins today.” But it doesn’t have to stay that way because you’ve the freedom to pray. Lost souls need salvation. The saved need sanctification. Our best response always is to pray. Lord grant to us a heart of devotion to prayer!
“Never, never may we forget that if we would do good to the world, our first duty is to pray!” – J. C. Ryle
TO BE GOD’S PEOPLE
Almighty Father give us a vision
Of a dying world that needs Your love and care
We see the need the yearning for a Savior
In Jesus’ name grant this our prayer
To be God’s people in this place
Live His goodness share His grace
Proclaim God’s mercy through His Son
Be His love to ev’ryone
And when we falter be Thou our comfort
Guide us as Your children that our lives may be
A beacon in this darkness that surrounds us
A light that others then may see
Text and music: Charles F. Brown; c 1974 Word Music