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. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
– 1 Timothy 2:1-6
It is a fact of human nature. It is easier to pray for some people than others. Prayer comes easy when we are praying for sick children, members of our family and circle of friends, or members of our church. It does not come naturally to us to pray for our enemies, to pray for those who abuse and mistreat us, or to pray for government leadership we don’t care for.
But it was Jesus who said: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” -Matthew 5-44-47
In his letter to Timothy, Paul orders “petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people.” “All people” includes the neighbor you dislike, the person you can’t get along with at work, the former spouse who angers you so often. The government official you don’t like. The Emperor in Paul’s last days was the wicked Nero Caesar! The list is endless. The order is clear: All People.
But Paul takes the time to specifically single out the need for prayer “for kings and all those in authority.” This phrase covers all authorities from the national level down to the local city government. The reason is no secret: “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” There is no note of praying for a particular political agenda or for success of a particular governor’s programs. Our great prayer for the governing authorities is that we may have such peace in the land that we may have the freedom and opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Our Community, our world needs our prayers. Wicked despots need our prayers to repent and come to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The family and friends of George Floyd need our prayers that God may heal their broken hearts and bring them justice. The Minneapolis police need our prayers, that God may protect them and give them wisdom, patience, and grace in their service. The rioters and looters need our prayers, that they might recognize their sin, turn in repentance, and come in faith to Jesus to lead new lives of service and kindness to others. Our government leaders surely need our prayers, that they might gain humility, godliness, wisdom, understanding, courage, and endurance.
It is our Christian responsibility because we alone understand that “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” There is no other god to help. No other god to save. No other god to move those in charge and to move those who burn buildings. No other god who can hear and answer our prayers. No other god who can help and save our community. Pray, Pray, Pray.