Question Box: Praying for the salvation of world leaders

Question or Topic Scripture
Praying for the salvation of world leaders I Timothy 2:1-4

My question is related to the following verses:
  1. I Timothy 2:1-4
  2. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
  3. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
  4. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
  5. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Verse 4 seems to suggest that we should pray for the world leaders to come to a saving knowledge of the truth. I understand that we should pray that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, but I am having difficulty with the idea of God taking aggressive action to inspire the wicked and unbelieving to take the truth. Can you offer any logical explanation for the implication in these verses?

(Note: the question has been abbreviated from it's original form. I hope that I have done justice to the intention of the writer).

Answer


Your question has introduced an idea that I had not previously thought about in these verses. We will attempt to answer your question as we proceed to make some observations about these interesting verses.

It would appear that at least part of this exhortation to prayer is very specifically related to the welfare of the servants of God, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty". This reminds me of some similar thoughts that may be related, from II Thessalonians 3:

  1. II Thessalonians 3:1-3
  2. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
  3. And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
  4. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

We certainly are aware of the terrible acts of random wickedness that are so prevalent in these final days. We should pray to God often, for protection from the effect of these evil deeds.

We understand also that God utilizes the "powers that be" as his minister against the evil in this world during the present dispensation. We call your attention to these words from Romans 13:

  1. Romans 13:1-4
  2. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  3. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
  4. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
  5. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

It would seem very appropriate for us to pray for these rulers, so that God will help them in the exercise of their efforts to maintain control of evil, so that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives. It may be that our ability to hold forth the word of life effectively, (in this present evil world), is dependent on the amount of control that the authorities are able to maintain. We are so fortunate in this country for to have freedom of speech and assembly. Freedom to worship as we choose, and freedom to proclaim the gospel by whatever means possible. These freedoms are a blessing from God, administered through his instruments; – those who are in authority in this country.

The result of our prayers for those that are in authority, is that we are blessed with the opportunity to preach, so that we may assist in the objective indicated in I Timothy 2:4: "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth". If we are allowed to live a peaceable life "in all godliness and honesty", our words will be supported by the example of lives that are not complicated by the stress associated with the turmoil and unrest that too often is present in other parts of the world.

Our prayers are not necessarily that we wish to see any of these rulers accept the way of salvation, but rather that during their administration, we may be free to help others come to a knowledge of the truth. Not that it is wrong to desire salvation for those who are in authority.

The Apostle Paul took advantage of every opportunity to offer the hope of Israel to the rulers that he came into contact with. In Acts 24 we are informed of his preaching to Felix:

  1. Acts 24:24-25
  2. And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
  3. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled

He then continued to preach when he was presented to Agrippa. Notice his comment in Acts 26:29 –

  1. Acts 26:27-29
  2. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
  3. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
  4. I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

Paul would have been happy to have been able to help Agrippa to accept the way of salvation. Even as we are all prone to rejoice when one sinner repenteth. In this process we must keep in mind always that it is God who is calling out those whom he chooses, in accordance with his will.

In summary then, we are exhorted to pray for the peace that will enable us, by word and by our example, to spread the gospel of salvation effectively, so that all men might have the opportunity to be saved. For he is "longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

In the process of our effort to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15), we may also find an occasion to influence an official or a ruler with the offer of life. If this opportunity is given to us, we certainly would season our presentation with our prayer to God that his heart might be receptive.

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