“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. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-7)
Paul urges the believers to live a lifestyle of prayer and for them to pray for all people without ceasing. No one is now outside of the bounds of your prayers. Paul gives general instructions about these prayers for all people. These new normal prayers should regularly consist of four different parts. First, supplications are to be made, which are specific requests for specific needs. Second, prayers are to be made, which are the general use of all requests being made before God. Third, intercessions are to be made, which means to appeal boldly to God on behalf of others. Finally, there should be prayers of Thanksgiving, which express appreciation to God for the person or persons you are praying for. Paul urges them to have prayer mark their lives.
"No one is outside of the bounds of your prayers."
After the general instructions about prayer Paul then gets more specific about who they should be praying for. Pray for kings, those exercising royal authority, and for all of those that are in high positions. Pray for all of those that are leading in the nation in which you are a citizen of. This is a very unnatural thing to do. It is even more unnatural when those leaders over you are wicked rulers. Paul wrote this to a church that was part of the Roman Empire, most likely with Nero as the ruler. He was a wicked man and his governors followed suit. When in Rome do as the Romans. Even though the rulers were wicked Paul said a new normal is to pray for them.
Why Pray for the Leaders?
Paul instructs the church on some reasons as to why they should pray for those in authority over them. The first reason he states as to why this prayer life should be the new normal is so they can live quiet and peaceable lives. In order for this to happen those in authority need to fulfill their God given role, which is to bear the sword (Rom. 13:1-7). Their role is to ensure equal justice. Essentially this is praying for them and praying that they will leave us alone and stay out of our lives. They should leave people alone until they break the law and until their is a victim of a crime. Their job is to punish criminals. Note: Paul did not instruct them to live quiet and peaceable lives. He said pray for the leaders so that you can. This is the ideal but can only really take place if the government obeys God.
Paul is urging them to pray for these wicked rulers. In essence he is urging them to pray for people that they naturally detest. Our prayers should be hopeful prayers for them. Hopeful prayers that they may actually come to the saving knowledge of the truth. Yes, even they can be saved. That is the message Paul is communicating. Pray hopefully as our God and savior desires that all types of people, even wicked rulers, would come to the knowledge of the truth. The text is saying that Christ desires all types of people from all types of places to come to faith. Don’t prejudge in your prayers. Don’t ever say that anyone is “too far gone.”
"Don’t prejudge in your prayers. Don’t ever say that anyone is “too far gone.”"
We can pray hopefully in this way because the work of reconciliation is not dependent upon any of us; if it was we would all be hopeless. This mediating work is utterly dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished. Jesus is the one and only mediator between God and man. He is the only go between. He is the only one that has lived in both realms. He tells us to repent and to the Father He presents us as an adopted child. Salvation is possible for all people everywhere, as it is dependent on this mediating work of Christ. So, pray hopefully for leaders. In fact, pray hopefully for all people.
"Salvation is possible for all people everywhere, as it is dependent on this mediating work of Christ."
We pray hopefully as this mediator gave Himself up as a ransom for us all. A ransom is a price that is paid for redemption. Jesus is the go between, paying the price of redemption. The price was His truly innocent blood. This blood price is sufficient to cover the sins of any person. Even the most vile and wicked person. If Adolf Hitler repented at the end of His life, Christ would have cleansed Him. We can be hopeful, knowing that His blood is sufficient enough to secure the redemption of anyone who believes. This is the message that drove Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles. These were wicked people without the law of God. Paul went preaching Christ and Him crucified.
"The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover the sins of any person, even the most vile and wicked person."
Hopeful Persistent Prayer
Jesus told a parable in regards to teaching people to pray and to pray persistently. This is a great lesson for us as we pray for leaders over us. Jesus told the people about a widow who was attempting to seek out justice against her adversary. She kept going to an unjust judge in efforts to seek justice. The widow did not give up though. The squeaky wheel always gets the oil. She kept bothering this unjust judge until he eventually gave in, as he was annoyed by her, and appropriate justice was had. Jesus says that is how we are to pray. The difference is that we are praying to a just judge. Go to God in prayer persistently and pray hopefully.
I need to apologize to all of you today. All of you who are partners of ONElife Church and in particular those of you that have been here for a little while. What I love about being a Word-centered ministry is that the Word of God continues to change me and convict me as a leader. I have not done a good job in leading you all in the area of praying for those in authority over us. In addition, I want to apologize for not driving home the point that those really in authority over us will be found at the township, city, county, and state level. There was a massive debate when the constitution was being written as to whether it should say, “We the people” or “We the States.” We went with “We the people” and got it wrong. If you remember one thing about today, remember this. Forget about what is going on at the federal level and start focusing on your township, city, and county. Identify who your supervisor, mayor, sheriff, and council members are. Write their names down and pray persistently for them, that they would be saved and govern Biblically, allowing us to live quiet and peaceable lives.
Contributor / Eric Stewart
Eric Stewart is the Lead Pastor of ONElife Church in Flint, MI.