Sunday during the sermon we read and learned about prayer from 1 Timothy 2:1-8. Not that we haven’t ever learned about prayer before, but sometimes it helps to be reminded. For example, there are different ways of praying that are all important. Right from verse 1, using some of the Greek for clarity: supplications (petition or request), prayers (also having to do with worship), intercessions (interceding for someone or on their behalf), and giving of thanks (giving thanks, expressing gratitude to God as an act of worship). And I notice that when Paul told Timothy to pray for all men (meaning mankind or humans in general), he said it after listing all these ways of praying.
Now let’s talk about the ALL men part. In verses 1 and 2 Paul, with this way of thought from God, tells Timothy to pray for ALL men. He didn’t specify good ones or bad ones, he just said all. All means all and that is all that all means. Paul added some specific people to pray for, saying to pray for kings (or for our modern understanding, rulers and people in high government authority) and for all that are in authority (from the police officer to the crosswalk guard). Paul didn’t say to pray just for the good ones here. He was writing this at a time when many people in authority were persecuting Christians, and the king at the time was Nero, who really hated Christians. Aside from those prayers helping us to live a more peaceful life in godliness (verse 2b), Paul knew that God has a heart for the world – every single person in it – so we should, too (verses 3 and 4).
You might have someone in mind that you don’t want to pray for, say a dictator or two in a foreign country, or one or more officials in your own country. Maybe it’s a co-worker or a boss. Maybe it’s a group of people. But God cares about them, too. God wants them to come to Him just as much as He wants you (verses 5 and 6).