Why Should We Pray for All Peoples, Including Our Leaders?

I have talked about prayer in my last two posts, specifically for whom we should pray and what it takes for us to be able to pray for all people. If you haven’t read those two posts, I encourage you to do so. Today I’m going to end the series by providing motivation to pray.

Why Should We Pray for All Peoples, Including Our Leaders?

Paul tells us in 1st Timothy 2 that we should pray for all people’s including our leaders in order:

“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,” (1 Ti 2:2–3)

In other words, Paul wants us to pray for all people’s including kings and all those who are in charge so that we can lead a life that is free from turbulence, uproars, and persecution.

Why this Type of Life?

The reason he wants us to lead that type of life is not just so we can be comfortable. Certainly being comfortable is a benefit. But if you know anything about Paul, you know he is all about the spread of the gospel. He knows that if we live in a persecution free society, the gospel will be spread more easily.

Our Experience

Think about America as opposed to North Korea or China. We are free to live out our faith and share the gospel with others. The worst thing we have to worry about is someone giving us a dirty look or saying something unkind, or maybe losing our job, but that is few and far between. We don’t, however, have to worry about the police showing up at our front door to arrest us, or being prosecuted and sentenced to death for our beliefs. We are free for the most part to share our faith.

What we are experiencing now is exactly what Paul longed to see — a society where Christians could live and share their faith freely, so that others would know the hope we have and come to faith in Christ. If you think about it, the freedom we have in the United States has led to many people coming to Christ.

So you can see why Paul tells us to pray for all peoples. It’s not just so we can be comfortable, but so the gospel can be freely advanced for the glory of God.

What We Should Want and Do

If you want to see the gospel advanced for the glory of God, and you should if you are a Christian, then pray for all peoples, including those in leadership. Pray God would work in their lives to change their heart so that they come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Pray also that they would see the benefit of living and directing society according to biblical principles.

The cultural war we are fighting in our country right now isn’t going to be won on Facebook or Twitter, it’s going to be won on our knees in prayer.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to influence our friends and family with arguments and reason, we should. We, however, must know that arguments, reason, and posts alone won’t do the job. Only the work of the Holy Spirit turning the hearts of man will. So pray and continue to pray for all peoples!


Question for Reflection

  1. Are you taking advantage of your freedom to share the gospel with others so that they might be saved?
  2. Are you continuing to pray for our leaders, so that our society remains free and the gospel is able to be freely spread?


Post adapted from my sermon For Whom Should We Pray and Why?


What Does It Take For Us To Be Able To Pray For All Peoples?

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

  1. 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?


Who Should Receive Our Prayers?

Prayer is something all Christians are called to do. We pray for a lot of different people, but have you ever thought about who should receive our prayers? Paul, writing to Timothy, answers that question for us. Let’s see what he has to say.

We Are to Pray for All People’s

At the end of verse 1, Paul tells Timothy that he, and we, are to pray for all people,

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” (1 Ti 2:1)

At first, praying for all people doesn’t sound too controversial. We are used to praying for a lot of different people. If your church is like mine, you hold a prayer service, where you pray for those in and out of the church. People in the community and those who live elsewhere. You probably ask the Lord to heal them, to give them wisdom, knowledge, comfort, and joy; to provide them with jobs, and so on and so forth. Nothing really controversial. We are usually happy to pray for others.

But when you really start to tease out what “all people” means, this idea gets a little more radical. What about those in the Middle East who hate us? What about ISIS and Boko Haram? What about them? Should we pray for them? According to Paul, we are supposed to pray for them as well.

For many, that’s difficult. These folks have done some horrible things. Thinking about those things can make it hard to pray for them. It may even lead us to be like Jonah who was reluctant to pray and preach because he wanted to see his enemies punished, not saved. If I’m honest, I know I’ve thought like Jonah. These groups are murdering innocent men, women, and children. They are cutting heads off Christians. So if I’m honest, I’ve certainly thought like Jonah.

But God, through Paul, tells us that we are to pray for all people, even our enemies.

As one commentator says,

“All needy sinners—without distinction of race, nationality, or social position—must receive our prayers” [1].

We Are to Pray for Our Governing Authorities

After telling us that we are to pray for all people’s, Paul drills down a bit further and specifically tells us that we are to pray…

“…for kings and all who are in high positions,” (1 Ti 2:2)

This may not sound like a radical idea, but in Paul’s day, and maybe soon in our day, this was a radical idea. Most commentators believe that when Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, Nero was in charge of the Roman Empire.

If you remember from history class, Nero was a bad dude, a major persecutor of the church. One of the things he did was blame the fire that decimated a large portion of Rome in AD 64 on the Christians. A fire many believed he started. Having blamed this fire on the Christians, he rounded many of them up and punished them for a crime they didn’t commit. Another thing he did to the Christians in the empire was to impale them alive on large poles, and then light them on fire in order to provide light for his parties. There was more Nero did, but I think you get the idea — Nero was a bad dude.

Paul tells the church at Ephesus to pray for this guy! A guy they probably wished had never been born. A guy they most likely wanted God to punish. But Paul tells them to pray for him.

When it comes to our leaders, we are to do the same. We are to pray for our President, Congressmen and Congresswomen, our Supreme Court Justices, and our local leaders. We are to pray for all those in leadership over us, interceding on their behalf, asking God to work good in their life and save them, if He hasn’t already. We are to do this even if we are being persecuted by them, disagree with them, or believe they deserve God’s wrath.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you only pray for those you believe deserve it?


Post adapted from my sermon For Whom Should We Pray and Why?


[1] Thomas D. Lea, Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, New American Commentary, 87

Praise the Lord’s Deliverance

“From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.” (Ps 22:25–28)

When the Lord delivers us in some way, whether it be from an enemy, financial or health crisis, or a difficult time, we should praise the Lord. One way we can praise this Lord is by proclaiming His name to those in our own church, neighborhood, work place, and to the nations, calling all peoples to worship and seek Him.

The Lord is a loving and powerful God. He cares for His children and He desires to answer their prayers. Not only does the Lord desire to answer your prayer, but He is powerful enough to actually answer them. He is the King over all the nations.

Turn to the Lord in your time of need. Call out to Him. When He answers your prayer, praise His name to those around you so that their faith in the Lord will grow as well.

Question for Reflection

  1. When is the last time you praised the Lord for prayer He has answered?



The Joy of Fervent Prayer

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (Jn 16:24)

The sentence teaches us that the joy and happiness of believers admit of degrees, and may be fuller at one time than at another. It also teaches that the joy of a believer depends much on his fervency and earnestness in prayer. He that prays little and coldly must not expect to know much of ‘joy and peace in believing.’

Question for Reflection

  1. Does your prayer life lead to joy?


J.C. Ryle, John Vol. 3, 118.


Does God Hear Us When We Pray?

About a year or so ago, I was working one afternoon on one of my sermons, when my computer just froze on me without any warning. If you have ever had this happen, you know your heart skips a beat; little beads of sweat emerge on your forehead, as panic starts to set in. The first reaction besides screaming, “NO!” is to start banging on the keys trying to coax the machine back to life, so you can save your work. After trying that for a while, I realized the computer wasn’t coming back to life, so I did what I really didn’t want to do — I pressed the restart button and prayed.

As I sat expecting to hear the familiar Apple startup chime, nothing happened. No chime. The computer wouldn’t come back on. The situation was much worse than I first thought. I hadn’t just lost some work; I had potentially lost my computer.

One of the first things I did was call my friend Jonathan, who works at the Mac Shack at the high school. I knew if anyone could fix my computer he could. And, you know, my thought was right; he was able to fix my computer. I had to purchase a new motherboard, which is essentially the brains of the computer, but he got it working again.

Just like I knew who to go to for my computer, I also know who to go to about things in my life, family, and community — and that is God. When things are good or bad, I know I should go to God in prayer because God answers prayer.

Why don’t we pray?

But often times we don’t go to God in prayer. Maybe we prayed in the past but didn’t receive an answer from God. After which, we slowly but surely stopped praying because we thought it was useless. In place of prayer, we began handling things on our own. After all, something was getting done, even if it wasn’t ideal.

If that is you, I can assure you God does hear your prayers and He does answer them. How do I know God hears and answers us? Not only have I experienced answered prayer in my own life, but Daniel’s experience recorded for us in Scripture also tells us God hears and answers prayer.

Daniel’s experience

In Daniel chapter 9, we see God not only hears Daniel’s prayer, but He also provides an answer. God’s answer comes through Gabriel beginning in verse 20. Let’s pick up there.

“the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.” (Da 9:20–23)

To be sure God heard Daniel’s prayer. It didn’t fall on deaf ears. Hearing Daniel, God provides an answer. Admittedly, God’s answer isn’t an easy one. It has given commentators, pastors, and scholars difficulty for centuries. Working with a seventy weeks timeframe, Gabriel tells Daniel what is going to happen in the near future and what will happen in the distant future. My intention isn’t to solve the debate. It is rather for you to see God hears and answers prayer. The seventy weeks prophecy is evidence of the fact, even if it is difficult and highly debated, it tells us that we can be sure God always hears the prayers of His children, and hearing us, He always provides an answer. He may not send an angel, but He always provides an answer.

Hearing that you may be thinking, “If that is true, why aren’t our prayers answered more often? Why do we pray, but get nothing in return?”

Several reasons our prayers may seem as if they are unanswered

(1) God’s time is not our time

I know you all have seen the Staples commercial with the “easy button”. The “easy button” is great because the moment you press it, all the hard work you had ahead of you is done. Often times, we think prayer is an “easy button”. We lift a request up to God, and poof it is supposed to be answered. But prayer isn’t an “easy button.” God isn’t Staples. He doesn’t do things according to our time, but His.

(2) Unrepentant sin is hindering our relationship with the Lord 

Confessing sin is an important practice because it is what qualifies us to ask God to answer our prayers. Unrepentant sin hinders our daily relationship with the Lord (Matt. 6:12; 1 John 1:9). It doesn’t severe our relationship, we are justified by faith in Jesus, but sin does hinder our day-to-day fellowship with God (Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Eph. 2:13; Heb. 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2). So confession should be one of the first things we do when we go to the Lord in prayer. If we can’t think of any specific sins we need to confess, we should pray as David prays in Psalm 19:12: “clear me from hidden faults.” (Ps. 19:12)

Now I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am saying. We don’t need to be completely free from sin before God will answer our prayers. If that were the case, no one would have their prayers answered. However, God does delight in our obedience, and our obedience does have an impact on the effectiveness of our prayers (Ps. 15:8, 29; 66:18). So if you find that your prayer life is not as fruitful as you might expect, you may need to examine your life and repent.

(3) We are not asking in faith

James, in the first chapter of his epistle, writes,

“…for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas 1:6–8)

So if we aren’t asking in faith, truly believing the Lord can answer our prayers, and if we aren’t willing to depend on Him, then, as James tells us, our prayer is not going to be answered. Prayer should be more than wishful thinking. It should spring from trust in a holy and personal God, who desires we depend on Him.

(4) Our prayer may not be according to the Lord’s will

God has a plan for our life and this world. What we are asking the Lord to do may not be in accordance with His plan or purpose. If that is the case, He is not going to do what we ask (1 John 5:14-15; Matt. 6:10; John 15:7).

If you think with me for a moment, just because the Lord doesn’t do what we ask, doesn’t mean He isn’t answering our prayer. In some sense, He is answering our prayer by revealing to us what we are asking isn’t according to His will, or at least it’s not at that time.

So if your prayers seem as if they are going unanswered, most likely one of the above is true: it is not God’s time, unrepentant sin is hindering your relationship with the Lord, you aren’t asking in faith, or what you are asking is not according to God’s will.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you stopped praying because you think God doesn’t hear you?
  2. How does knowing that God hears you affect your future prayer life?


Developed from my recent sermon The Prayer of the Saints and the Sovereignty of God