by Jennifer Mills-Knutsen
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1-6
First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. 2 Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and it pleases God our savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.5 There is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the human Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a payment to set all people free. This was a testimony that was given at the right time.
“I ask that requests, prayers, petitions and thanksgiving be made for all people.”
In this letter, Paul (or whoever writes in Paul’s name) asks specifically for us to pray. Notice who he asks us to remember in our prayers. First, he asks that we pray for all people—“requests, prayers, petitions and thanksgiving be made for all people.” To ask for “requests, prayers and petitions” sounds like three versions of the same thing. These are prayers of help, prayers asking God to help people in particular ways.
Paul doesn’t stop there, though. Paul also says that we should offer thanksgiving for all people. Maybe he meant to say that each person should be thankful, but the translation actually sounds like we are supposed to give thanks for each person. What a great idea! We should, in our conversations with God, give thanks for all people.
Paul then goes on to ask for prayers for a specific group of people—“kings and everyone who is in authority.” If you don’t live in a country with royalty, you may invite a conversation about people who are in authority. Children may generate a different list than adults—the school principal may come up before political leaders.
Consider why those people might need special prayers. People in authority are those who have responsibility for others. That means that they have great opportunity, and also some heavy burdens to carry. Even young children can recognize this in their teachers. When we pray for people in authority, perhaps we should pray that they have the strength and energy to take on that responsibility, and the wisdom and mercy to execute their leadership in ways that are just and compassionate.
Questions for Conversation
-Who are the important leaders in our world? Who has extra responsibility to help people?
-How could we pray for those important leaders? How can we thank God for them? How could we ask God to help them?
-Who are the unnoticed, invisible people around us? Who might not have anyone praying for them?
-How could we pray for some of those people? How can we thank God for them? How could we ask God to help them?
Spend some time praying for the important leaders and the everyday people you noticed in your conversation. Be sure to include both thanksgiving and petitions as part of your prayer.
Dear God, you love all people,
those the world says are important
and those the world never notices at all.
Help us learn to love all people
by praying for them—giving thanks for their lives and asking for you to help them. Amen.