1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' (2:1-4)

'I urge', the apostle begins, using a word that gives strong encouragement and emphasis to his instructions. 'First of all' - pray. Before preaching, before organizing any part of the work of the church - pray. Prayer comes first in order of importance. The little word 'then' connects these verses with the previous verse. In effect Paul is saying, 'Remember the dangers and difficulties of the Christian calling, and also the responsibilities you have, and so pray.'

a. Pray for all

No one is beyond the reach of prayer. In fact, there are many whom we can help in no other way. There are those who are far away from us, those who are unwilling to be helped, and those whose position and work is far above our humble place in life. We can pray for all, and it is our duty to pray for people without thought of the human divisions of tribe and nation, class and race. The four different words describing prayer in these verses suggest different aspects of prayer. 'Supplication' usually means particular, definite requests. 'Prayers' is the general word for praying. 'Inter-cession' means approaching God on behalf of someone else - it is the word used of a person approaching a kin j or a ruler with a petition. The fourth word 'thanksgiving' reminds us, as Paul often does by example and instruction, that we should make a habit of giving thanks, not only at meal times. We should not be asking God for things all the time, but praising Him for who He is and what He has given us.

b. Pray for rulers

We may be very ordinary people, and may not even have seen those who rule our land. But we can pray for them. They have great responsibilities, making decisions that affect the lives of many. Their decisions may lead a nation to war or keep it in peace, bring it to poverty or to wealth, bring it under good influences or bad. We have duties to our country, to vote, to pay taxes, to be loyal citizens; but the greatest thing we can do for our country is to pray. Proverbs 21:1 says: 'The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will,' We can move men by prayer alone.

c. The reasons for prayer

Why should we pray for rulers? Because when by the help of God, they govern well, it is to His glory; and, moreover, His people can serve Him in peace and freedom. This is not a selfish reason for prayer. Our great ambition should be to live 'godly and respectful in every way' as verse a puts it. This means that God is first in our lives, and we never treat lightly the things of God or the standards of God. We should 1 pray for the right conditions of peace and freedom so that we and all Christian people can live in that way. Why should we pray for all people? Verse 4 has the answer to this question. No one is beyond the reach of prayer because no one is beyond the reach of God's love. His desire is that all should be saved and come to know Him with that knowledge which is life eternal (John 14:6; 17:3). Scripture often speaks of God's universal love and His desire that none should perish (see Isaiah 55:1, 7; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:16; and 2 Peter 3:9), This does not mean that all will be saved, whatever they do. It is tragically true that although salvation is offered to all, now, as in the days of Christ Himself; people can reject the offer (see John 5:40; 8:24; Acts 13:46 and Hebrews 2:1-4). But there is no one whom God does not desire to save. So we should pray for all - all with whom we live and work, all whom we know are in need, all who have great responsibilities or great ( temptations - all, even those who seem to be our enemies.


Lord, teach us to pray. Help us to be faithful in prayer, whatever else we can do or cannot do. We pray especially for those who rule the nations of the world, that in our land and in every land there may be good government, peace, and freedom to serve Thee. May Thy gospel be preached freely, may many believe and come to live godly lives to Thy honour and glory, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.

Further Study. 1. Study other places in the Bible which show the right attitude of Christians to their rulers - e.g. Jeremiah 29:7; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-17.

2. Make a list of places in the New Testament where thanksgiving is linked with prayer. See especially the beginning of each of Paul's epistles, and also Ephesians 5:20 and Philippians 4:6.