"Quiet and Peaceful Lives"
Combining a purpose for government with a purpose for prayer, Paul penned these words in I Timothy 2:1-3:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers,intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority,that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godlinessand holiness.This is good, and pleasesGod.
These lessons about prayer and government are particularly relevant at a time when our nation is experiencing some of the worst civil unrest seen since the 1960s. What should Christians do? This passage explains.
With its heading, the New International Version identifies this passages as giving "Instructions On Worship." Echoing I Corinthians 14, especially Vv:24-25, Paul reiterates that women should practice quietness (V:11) while men should word public prayers (V:8). While structuring congregational worship, Paul also teaches us about an important topic for prayer during our worship services.
"First Of All"
"Relating not to primacy of time but to primacy of importance, " the words "I urge first of all" indicate that public prayer ought to take center stage in our worship just as private prayer ought to take center stage in our lives. Christian people should be praying people just as Christian worship should be times of public prayer.
Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions, And Giving Of Thanks
Bible writers often use strings of synonyms to emphasize lessons. This is the case here. "Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks" are not different kinds of prayers. Instead, the words describe different kinds of things done in all prayers.
- Supplications describes a "heart-feltpetition, arising out of deep personal need (sense of lack, want)."
- Prayers is literally "an exchanges of wishes."
- Intercessions is a technical term describing a petition that is presented to one in authority that is in line with the will of the one who is an authority.
- Giving of thanks reminds us that our prayers are not only include requests toward the future, but are also to include expressions of gratitude for blessings already received (see Phil. 4:6).
"For All...For Kings...For All"
Paul included "kings and all those in authority" on the list of those for whom we ought to pray. In his day, that list would have included Roman emperors (who were often antagonistic to Christianity), regional governors and other bureaucrats (who were often ham-handed and heartless), tax collectors (who got into pocketbooks) and Roman soldiers (who were notoriously harsh and cruel).
Written somewhere between 60 and 65 AD, increasing imperial persecution was part of the background of I Timothy 2:1-3. Still, Paul urged Christians to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (My. 5:44). The application to our day is that Republican Christians should pray for Democrat presidents, Democrat Christians should pray for Republican governors, and Christians of every political persuasion should pray for government officials of all kinds, all the way down to the level of the street cops whose politics are obscured behind their badge.
"Quiet And Peaceful Lives"
Paul recognizes that upheavals in national life can upset proper concentration on spiritual life. Because of this, he explains why we should pray for governments officials: "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives." Instead of existing solely for great and grand purposes, God has installed governments to provide Christians with the kind of lives that allow them to serve Him. Many have seen in these words a subtle reminder that Christians ought also to conduct themselves in ways that bring quiet and peace to their own lives.
"Prayer should occupy a central place in the church's service of worship." Proper conduct of government should occupy a central place in prayer. For this we should pray, that our leaders will conduct their offices in the kinds of ways that result in a tranquil social order that facilitates Christian work and Christian worship.