In my last post, I explored who should receive our prayers. Ultimately, we landed on the idea that we should pray for all peoples. No one, including our enemies, should be left out. We are to pray for all peoples regardless of how they treat us.
I don’t know about you, but for me, praying for all peoples can be difficult. Especially, if they have wronged me or aren’t governing in the way I believe they should govern. What, then, does it take for us to be able to pray for all peoples?
What Does It Take For Us To Be Able To Pray For All Peoples?
First, it takes a proper view of the gospel.
In 1 Timothy 2:3-4 Paul tells Timothy,
“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.” (1 Ti 2:3–4)
Essentially what Paul tells Timothy is that the gospel is for everyone. As one commentator says,
“The apostle’s meaning here is simply that no nation of the earth and no rank of society is excluded from salvation,”
In other words, Jesus did not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, ethnicity, or economic status, so neither should we. The gospel is for everyone. We should, then, pray for everyone to be saved and for God to work in everyone’s life. Whether we agree or disagree, whether they treat us fairly or not, we should pray for everyone.
We should specifically pray for their salvation because God’s salvation is exclusive.
In the same chapter, starting in verse 5 Paul says,
“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. (1 Ti 2:5–6)
You see, there is only one way for us to be saved and that’s through trusting in Jesus as our Savior. There is no other way. Jesus is the only One who is able to serve as our Mediator — as the link between man and God. As well as Jesus is the only One who is able to serve as our ransom.
“Ransom” is a marketplace term indicating that something has been bought back; the price has been paid for its release. The One who pays the price for our release is Jesus. Through His death and resurrection, He ransoms us from God’s wrath and the power of sin over our lives.
We need Jesus to ransom us because we can’t pay the price for our own release. That’s because the price is a perfect sacrifice. We aren’t perfect. Instead, we are sinners who deserve God’s wrath. But not Jesus. He doesn’t deserve God’s wrath because He is perfect, He’s sinless. As the perfect God-man, He is able to pay the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
So we pray for God to save all peoples through Jesus because He is our only hope of salvation.
Second, it takes us being changed by the gospel.
Those who have experienced God’s forgiveness and love won’t hesitate to pray for everyone. That’s the power of the gospel. God’s love and forgiveness should change us from unloving, unforgiving people to loving and forgiving people who want what’s best for others because we have experienced what’s best for us.
The gospel should change us. It should warm our heart to others. It should cause us to be loving and forgiving people who want to see others changed. If you don’t desire that for others, you might not have been changed by the gospel yourself.
Third, it also takes a proper theology of authority.
There are a number of texts that provide a proper theology of authority, but the first part of Romans 13 seems to cover this idea well. We don’t have the time to go into detail, but let’s look at the highlights.
In verses 1 and 2 Paul tells us that:
Governing authorities are appointed by God; anyone who resists them resists God.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Ro 13:1–2)
Then in verses 3 and 4 we are told that:
Authorities are set in place to maintain order and justice.
“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Ro 13:3–4)
Moving right along, in verses 5-7, we are told that:
We are to live in subjection to the authorities God has placed over us.
That looks like us abiding by their laws, paying taxes, and giving them respect and honor, not just to avoid punishment but for the sake of conscience. In other words, living in subjection to the authorities God has placed over us is the right thing for Christians to do because it’s in accord with God’s command.
“Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (Ro 13:5–7)
This, then, is how God wants us to think of governing authorities. Once we arrive at this type of thinking, we should be lead to pray for them.
Are you willing to pray?
In theory, praying for those who govern us might sound doable.
- But what happens when your political party is not in charge?
- Do you find that you still respect and honor the President God has placed over you, or do you defame his name, dragging it through the mud?
- Do you pray for your President and elected leaders, even if they aren’t your political party?
That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s when a text like this becomes difficult and convicting. That’s why it’s necessary we have a proper view of the gospel and a proper theology of authority. If we don’t, we aren’t going to do what God calls us to do — To pray for all peoples.
Question for Reflection
- Does the gospel and a proper view of authority motivate you to pray for all peoples?
Post adapted from my sermon For Whom Should We Pray and Why?