1 Timothy 2:1-4 - All Sorts of Prayers for All Sorts of People
Pray continually, especially for the people you'd like to pray for the least!
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Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 104
Q. What is God’s will for you
in the fifth commandment?
A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to
my father and mother
and all those in authority over me;
that I obey and submit to them,
as is proper,
when they correct and punish me;
and also that I be patient
with their failings—
for through them God chooses
to rule us.
There's a ton of theology going on in this short passage!
Let's begin with the opening imperative, where Paul distinguishes between four different ways of praying: petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. This doesn't mean that every time you pray you need to check off all four of these boxes, rather the point here is to be praying often - continually, even, as Paul mentions in 1 Thes. 5:17. Pray in every situation that you find yourself in.
It's quite natural to pray for yourself and those close to you, and you should! It's not that you need to pray in order to convince God to do something about the situations you bring to Him, rather the more often you Acknowledge who God is and Align your life with His will, the more likely you will Ask for the things God wants for you.
But Paul here commands you to pray for the very people we often pray for the least: "kings and all those in authority." In our situation this obviously includes the President and the Governor and other politicians, but it also includes your parents, employer, church council, teachers, landlord, and a host of other people who God has vested His authority in to help structure your life; the very people that He commands you to honor in the fifth commandment.
Perhaps one of the reasons it's so hard to pray for people who have authority over us is the underlying assumption that since they are at a higher station in life, they must have it made. What do they need prayers for? They've already made it! Plus, they often just seem like pompous jerks so often!
But as we noticed the other day, very few people exercise absolute authority in life. A person might exercise authority in one sphere, but is dependent and subservient in other areas. It's quite likely that even though you are under the authority of far more people than you like, you also have been given authority in other realms. You probably know how hard it is to make decisions that affect others! How comforting would it be to know those people were praying for you, even as you make decisions they might not initially like? So extend that same courtesy to those in authority over you, whether you like them or not.
Pray for God's blessing in every area of their life. When things go well for them, things will likely go well for you also, so that all "may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (v2)."
But pray especially that they may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When you pray that, you're praying a prayer that's aligned with God's will, since He wants all people to reach up to Him for their salvation.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our God and Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the people He exercises His authority through in your life. Pray that things will go well for them and especially that they will know salvation;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 1 John 2