1 Timothy chapter 2 begins with a call for the church to pray.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Since Paul wrote the book of 1 Timothy is to teach the nature of Christian behavior in the assembled church (1 Timothy 3:14-15) we must assume that the call to prayer is a call for the assembled church to pray.
From this, I would venture two important observations regarding prayer in the assembled church. First, Paul urges prayer in the form of supplications and intercessions. The point is surely that the church is urged to pray fervently for the wellbeing of others. And not just for others, but for all people. I would then assume that Paul is encouraging the local church to intercede with God on behalf of the people in their community. Since we know that he mentions kings later, the “all people” he has in mind must surely be key people in the life of the city where the assembled church is located. In practical terms, we today might apply that to mean to pray for the police, firefighters, doctors and nurses, civic leaders, influencers, and people who are involved in keeping our infrastructure going. All of these contribute to the peace and well-being, peace and dignity that Christians long for.
Second, Paul urges prayer for kings and all who are in high positions. Our application of this passage must mean that we are to pray for the Prime Minister, members of Parliament, the Premier of our Province, members of the Legislature and for mayors and city councils.
Given these rather clear instructions, one has to wonder what has happened to the church at corporate prayer. The traditional pastoral prayer has been eclipsed in most churches. However, some churches do have, as a part of their liturgy, a time reserved for prayer for their community.
The reason for this should be obvious. As the church corporately prays for their community, they gain an interest in their community. They remember that God expresses his common grace to all. They begin to enter into the needs in the lives of their community. And they view themselves as the agents of God’s blessing to their city. Were it not for the praying church, who would then intercede on behalf of the world? Furthermore, the praying church informs the community of her love for them. John Chrysostom said it well. “No one can feel hatred towards those for whom one prays.”
When the church takes her obligation to pray for the community seriously, she also fulfills the prophecy of Malachi 1:11.
“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.”
As churches continue to be planted in every city and community on earth, prayers are rising up from obedient churches on behalf of their community, so that from the rising of the son to its setting – prayer for all people are offered up.
This is my plea to the church to recapture the divine duty of prayer for all. Let’s incorporate this kind of prayer back into our worship services. That is not to say that we stop preaching and singing. But brothers and sisters, let us pray!