The Bible’s Apostle Paul, encouraged submission to governing authority, and love for each other (Romans 13:1-10). Yet, in a time when challenge comes more instinctively than submission, and conflict is more common than love, he advocated a further humbling step: pray for those in authority. And, God being the God that He is, attached a promise to this request. That is: the assurance of living a quiet and peaceful life.
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper conduct” (1 Timothy 2:1, 2, GNT).
When your life needs more peace and quiet try this.
Some would prefer to be at odds with others rather than live a quiet and peaceful life. Many would challenge my observation, but actions tell the real story. Social media posts criticizing those in authority can go viral, and the instant gratification from likes, re-tweets, and re-posts overshadows the promise found in our focus text. Because we live in an ecosystem that’s ordered and responsive, however, the direct or indirect result of our viral rants—and all other actions—emerge at some point.
Similarly, most promises in the Bible are conditional—if you do this, God promised He’ll do something. Specifically, if you pray for “all people,” and “kings and all others who are in authority,” you’ll have “a quiet and peaceful life”—action and reaction.
Someone is saying; “It’s hard to pray for someone that I don’t want to submit to, or that I don’t love.” That is difficult. However, it is much easier to submit and to love when you are praying for someone. Our love for each other should allow us to offer petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings to God for all people.
Many will claim that they do pray for all people, but are very selective for whom they pray. Again, the quietness and the peacefulness of your life depends on your ability to pray for “all people,” not just the people you like. We must pray for that neighbor, co-worker, and classmate that we do not like, and with whom we are struggling to get along.
Paul then gets very specific. He says: “pray for kings and all others who are in authority.” Matthew Henry in his commentary notes: “[T]hough the kings at this time were heathens, enemies to Christianity, and persecutors of Christians, yet we must pray for them.”
If it feels like this goes too far, remember it is biblical. Pray for your supervisor, your pastor, your president, your teacher, your parents. In other words, stop bashing your supervisor, pastor, president, teacher, or parents, and pray for them.
Titus 3:1 also instructs us; “Remind your people to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey them…” Nevertheless, we’re admonished (Acts 5:29) that we “ought to obey God rather than men.” I join with Paul in encouraging us to respect, submit to, and obey earthly authority, but when it conflicts with the laws of God, we must obey God. “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21.
No Mess. No Stress
Make a quick assessment now by asking:
• What is the quality of life?
• Is life as quiet and peaceful as it should be?
The miserable life you’re living could be as a direct result of disregarding the counsel to first submit to authority, love each other, and subsequently to pray for those around you. Lawlessness in our own experience, and in our society, is a direct result of our prayerlessness. Nevertheless, this promise of God outlined for us by Paul is encouraging: pray for “all people; for kings and all others who are in authority,” and you’ll “live a quiet and peaceful life.” We should trust God to act when we pray. The promise is true; the consequences are real—pray!
HUGH WESLEY CARRINGTON, PH.D. writes from Brooklyn, New York. He is the lead consultant for Bridge Ministries Consulting, Inc., and author of the recently released book, Inevitable and Imminent: On Becoming a House of Prayer—The Process. He is available to work with churches in implementing this process. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit with him at www.bridgeministriesinc.com.
Scripture quotations marked (GNT) are from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.