Bible reading: 1 Timothy 2vs1-2. My life (put) alongside God's word, volume 1.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – 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.
Paul was telling Timothy the best way to develop the church he was responsible for in Ephesus.
In chapter 1 he “urged” contention for the Gospel truth because some were trying to change it, see 1 Timothy 1:3-7.
The word “urge” (in both these Scriptures) means “to plead, to press, to move someone towards doing something”. The Greek “parakaleo” means, “to beseech, to call, to desire, to exhort, to entreat, to pray”. What Paul was about to tell Timothy was very important indeed. It is also a vital part of our church ministry, which we ignore at our own peril!
The first part of our “praying for everyone”, v1, is to “pray for kings and all those in authority”, v2.
At the time this was written, Rome ruled throughout this area, and the Emperor Nero who aggressively persecuted Christians was “the king”. The Church of England AD.1662 Prayer Book said we should pray for “Christian kings”, but that was wrong.
Prayer is the Christian way to combat persecution. Bring your personal needs and your national leaders before God, humbly and yet boldly. Quote God’s words back to Him. This is why you dare to come before Him this way. Then, with the quiet thankfulness which assurance brings, leave the issue with Almighty God.
For many years I have prayed now and then for Sudan’s foremost Islamic teacher Hassan al-Turabi, thinking that his conversion to Christ would be like that of Saul of Tarsus in the Bible. When I asked my students at Gideon Theological College, Banat, to pray with me – many just laughed! Whether they have prayed, I don’t know. But I have, and I still do so now.
We must also pray for South Sudan’s current President Salva Kiir, and for Sudan’s President Lt-Gen. Omar al-Bashir (I write during July 2013). You may be able to add the names of their deputies and then some other local leaders, or even their successors. You may never speak in person to these eminent people, but you can influence them by prayer. Almighty God answers prayer.
In a way, when we pray for these secular leaders, we are also obeying the command of Jesus: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”, Matthew 22:21. The greatest thing we can do for any unbeliever is to pray for their salvation in Jesus Christ. And we know that God “wants all men (people) to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”, 1 Timothy 2:4.
So let us give good time in our church services to praying for our country, our leaders, and our own opportunities to live Christianly, even in a non-Christian environment.
Finally, notice why we should pray this!
1 Timothy 2:2, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”. Good government brings peace. Our “godly” and “holy” living pleases God and promotes the peace for all, as we act Christianly toward our governments, the ones God has allowed us to have, Romans 13:1-7.
Godliness is something of a theme in these pastoral letters.
Follow the godliness theme to see how to live to please God:
1. 1 Timothy 2:2
2. 1 Timothy 3:16
3. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
4. 1 Timothy 6:3
5. 1 Timothy 6:5-6
6. 1 Timothy 6:11
7. 2 Timothy 3:5
8. Titus 1:1
In an ideal world the church is to be the conscience of the state, consistently praying for it. The state is to protect the church, giving freedom to everyone performing religious duties. Sadly we live in a world fallen into sin. It is far from ideal. Most of us cannot do anything about ruling the state. But we can pray as God urges us to.
We must do our part otherwise we are a bit to blame for the mess we are in. God takes the honouring of His name very seriously indeed. We who say we are Christians must show we are Christians by the way we live seven days a week, and twenty-four hours a day.
1. Does it make any difference to this responsibility, if your government is Christian or not? Why? Why not? (Argue from the Bible if you can).
2. How can we use time in our church services to pray for our nation?
3. What should we include in those prayers?
Consider Psalm 33:12, Proverbs 11:14, 14:34, Romans 13:1-7, and perhaps Matthew 12:25.
4. Notice “everyone” and “all those in authority” in 1 Timothy 2:1-2. The word “all” appears again in vv4, 6. Give as many reasons as you can for praying for those who govern – good people and bad people.
 Collins English Dictionary (Harper Collins: Glasgow) 1994.  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Thomas Nelson: Nashville) 1996 edition, p.738.  John Stott 1st Timothy & Titus BST (IVP: Leicester) 1996, p.62.