“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV)
Could these verses contain God’s blueprint for reaching the lost? In our desire to see people saved, we may have made it more important to talk to men than to God. The Bible, however, explicitly tells us that supplication, prayer, intercession and giving of thanks are to be made for all men – for kings and all who are in positions of authority – that we may live a quiet and peaceable life AND that all men might come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. Somehow, we seem to disconnect verse one from verse four. Maybe talking to God is the key to men being saved…
Today, we live in a world of turmoil and chaos. Darkness has overtaken our society and hatred and animosity run rampant in the streets of America. We are certainly not living quiet and peaceable lives in godliness and reverence. So, how did we get to this place? I’m sure we could point to a number of reasons, but one might be that we have failed in our responsibility to pray for all men – and especially those in places of authority. Praying for all men is good but praying for those in authority may be even more important than we realize. Why? Because they can play a major role in helping to create a world of peace and harmony.
Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” Godly leaders are called to legislate with the Bible in one hand and the law book in the other. When that happens, society begins to align with the will of God and things change. Then, and only then, can people live quiet and peaceable lives. But that’s not the only thing: When the righteous are in power a spiritual atmosphere is established that allows the gospel to go forth unhindered. This opens the door for the saving grace of God to be poured out upon the people.
I believe God rules the world through prayer. God has elected to include us in His plan for the nations. John Wesley once said “God does nothing but in answer to believing prayer.” If he is right, our prayers may be more important than we could ever imagine! We are called to co-labor with Him in prayer. These verses make our participation vital to the equation. If Wesley is right, and we don’t pray, God won’t work. However, when we pray, He moves! God creates a change the spiritual realm that alters the world all around us. Angels begin to win the battle against the powers of darkness that preside over our cities, towns and nations. Darkness has to flee, as the light of God’s presence floods into an area!
My wife and I have lived in five states and two countries. In each location, we discovered a different spiritual atmosphere not just based on the natural environment and the disposition of the people. The praying church was the difference!
Part of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples contains this line: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) He would never have told us to pray this way, if our prayers were not vital in bringing His kingdom to earth.
I know, you are probably thinking right now, but God is sovereign, He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. Yes, it is true that God is sovereign. However, the Bible tells us that God has limited His own sovereignty to include us here on earth. Psalm 115:3 says, “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.” Yet only a few verses later it says, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16) We have been called to co-labor with God in both prayer and ministry. (I Cor. 3:9a NIV) It was His plan from the Garden of Eden to include man in His plan for the earth. Nothing has changed.
Is it possible that prayer is the highest priority and responsibility of the church? We have been given the keys of the kingdom of God to bind and loose on earth what is bound and loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:18) We have the authority to create a world of peace and harmony through prayer. Have we fallen short in the task? Have we neglected this great calling? Do we no longer believe God can change the hearts of others – if we pray? He can and will do what He said He would do – when we do what He says to do, when we pray.
Reese Howells, the great intercessor during WWII, wanted to prove the power of prayer in the salvation of souls. So, he picked the most ungodly woman in his community and prayed for her salvation. He even set a time frame in which to expect it – and then began to pray. And oh, did he pray! He prayed that this woman would be gloriously saved by Christmas of that year. He even made it a point not to talk to her about the Jesus. The result? She was saved that Christmas, radically saved. How did it happen? Was it a sovereign encounter of God? Did God send people to talk to her? That part was not recorded, but what I do know is that she was saved because Reese Howells prayed.
Our prayers can change a nation. Our prayers can change the world, but we must put prayer first to see that happen. We must take the call to pray as seriously as God does. If our nation is destroyed, it will be because the Church has failed to make prayer the priority God does. Lord, help us to heed the call to pray like never before!