Lord, give us the Spirit of grace and prayer, meekness and obedience. Amen.
Text: First Timothy 2:1-7
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle – I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying – a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
This should be for us first and foremost of all that we do: to pray for all people. Because one God embraces us all with His love, we should love all and boldly pray for them. Furthermore, because one Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus, the second Adam, whose descendants we are, has gathered us all to Himself and redeemed us all, we should feel as one with all people and thus pray for them. As Christ took upon Himself the sins of all, so in His love we should take on ourselves everyone’s concern, not to make atonement, as He did, but indeed to intercede. We should humbly “make supplication” that they be saved. These “supplications” of ours we should present in “prayers,” individually and all together. But these prayers are “intercessions,” in that we present the need of others as our own, just as did Abraham and Daniel and, above all, our Lord Jesus. And in these prayers there should be “giving of thanks,” first because all are redeemed, then because we may express our needs in this way, and finally because faith is sure that the prayer is heard. Such prayer and intercession with thanksgiving is a matter of the very highest concern.
But isn’t it remarkable again, that in the midst of talking about interceding for the best for all people, for the salvation of their souls, he again mentions kings and authorities? “For civil government deals with other things than does the Gospel; the civil rulers do not defend souls, but bodies and physical things.”1 Yet the salvation of souls is the ultimate goal even for civic order in the world, and this has great significance for the kingdom of God. Therefore Paul speaks in this way: We should pray for the government so that we may live quiet, God-fearing, and respectable lives. For this pleases God, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He clearly sets a cause-and-effect relationship between a peaceful government and a life in the fear of God – and also between these two and the spreading of God’s kingdom. Whoever follows the disobedient spirit of the times sins simultaneously against God’s order and against the love of saving souls, and thus hinders the spreading of God’s kingdom. Let all believers pray diligently for their rulers and all in authority, and along with them carry their burdens before the Lord. It is a great blessing that God has placed us together in an orderly society, and that would be true even if our government were bad. How much more then should we pray for them “with thanksgiving,” when they are good and just!
We thank You, Lord God, for Your wisdom and Your goodness toward us sinful and wretched people. We thank You for the government You have given us, and humbly pray You: bless them, keep them, and strengthen them for every good thing. We pray You: give us grace to live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, pleasing in Your sight and blessed for the advancement of Your kingdom. Give us Your Holy Spirit for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
God, give blessing to our leaders,
In whatever place they stand;
Both in safety and in dangers,
Guard our people and our land!
Give them wisdom, strength, and might;
Fill their heart with gracious light,
Your true glory only pleasing,
And in earthly joys increasing!
Let the married in their dwelling
Be united with their God;
Faithfully and closely foll’wing
In their love the Word of God.
In their life Your love will shine
E’en in gentle discipline
That both young and old may gather
More to share Your bliss forever.
Brorson: Lad dit Rige allevegne L 391:2-3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Werde munter (ELH 354); alternate hymn: I trust, O Christ, in You alone ELH 415:3