I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
Read: 1 Timothy 2:1-10
Consider: A couple of days ago we looked at Romans 13 where Paul reminded the believers in Rome that they were to be subject to the governing authorities. His reason was that: ‘… there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God’ (Romans 13:1). The question for each of us is: Do you believe what it says in the verse from Romans 13? Perhaps you are willing to pay it head knowledge, but disregard it with your heart. What do I mean? It is very easy for us to pay lip-service to what we read, without really allowing it to change our attitudes.
Local governments and central Governments come and go and it is obvious that at some times there will be people in power with whom we disagree strongly. Recognising this fact should make us question how we react to those in authority, particularly when we disagree with their political and/or moral stance.
Paul actually makes this worse in his first letter to Timothy where he says: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1). Do you think: ‘Imagine Paul having the nerve to ask us as believers to be subject to the authorities and also to ask us to pray for them’. If, as a believer, you find it hard to pray for those in authority that you disagree with, you need to re-read the passages from Romans and 1 Timothy and ask yourself why you choose to ignore the Bible’s clear direction on the matter. This is not like the ‘disputable matters’ or ‘opinions’ Paul mentions in Romans 14. This is not a matter where we should be expressing our freedom in Christ.
Reading today’s passage from 1 Timothy 2, you may have noticed the words: This is good, and pleases God, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (2:3-4). What pleases God? That we may live ‘peaceful and quiet lives’ or that we are praying for all those in authority? The truth is that it isn’t that we live in peace that will bring people to Christ. However, if we live our lives distinctively for Christ, respecting those in authority and being prepared to pray for them, this may be noticed by those in authority and the wider community, causing them to be curious about our faith. This idea would have been counter cultural when Paul wrote to the Romans and it is still counter cultural for us today.
When was the last time you prayed for your church leaders, or your political leaders? When was the last time you prayed for your employer and those in authority over you in work? Paul tells us to pray for: ‘… all those in authority …’ (2:2). We should not be choosey about who we pray for. So take up the challenge and include those in authority in your prayers.
Pray: Father, we acknowledge how hard it is to pray for those whose views are opposed to ours. We ask that you would soften our hearts, so that we can pray knowledgeably for those in authority. Amen