1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)
The above passage tells us that it is a good practice to pray for others. It does not mean that we cannot pray for ourselves. We can do that. In fact, God encourages us to pray for ourselves. At the same time, there is no loss for us when we pray for others. We can afford it. When we have the mentality of abundance, we will no longer be limited to meeting our own needs alone. We will look beyond our own needs to meeting the needs of others.
In short we can afford to help others through our prayers. In addition, praying for others will help to strengthen our mentality of abundance. It will only result in us getting richer. So, interceding for others costs nothing and yet able to benefit us in a huge way.
In Verse 2, we are told to pray for those in authority like the government. Please note that, Timothy was not living in a democratic country when he read this verse. Human rights did not exist at that time. By comparison with today’s democratic countries, Timothy must have lived under a very oppressive system. However, that did not stop Paul from advising him to pray for the government.
So, in today’s context, we should pray for our own governments regardless of whether it is good or bad. Even if you live in places like North Korea, Somalia or Zimbabwe God expects you to pray for those in power in your country. The question is why should we do that? The second part of Verse 2 tells us the reason. We are to pray for those in authorities so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
Let me explain further on what it means. No governments can be perfectly evil. There is always some good in it. Put it this way. A good government is better than a bad government. However, a bad government is better than no government. No matter how bad your government appears to be, it is still preferable than living in total anarchy.
When you are living in anarchy, you can never live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. Anyone can break into your house and take anything you have. How are you going to live in peace? How are you going to get rich?
The best example I can think of is Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a bad leader. His government is corrupt and oppressive. One day, President Bush decided to invade Iraq to liberate the Iraqis from their oppression. Maybe he was hoping to have access to Iraqi oil as a reward. However, he made a fatal mistake. He did not install a replacement government immediately after he removed Saddam Hussein. The entire Iraq was thrown into anarchy. The previous regime was bad but at least it was able to maintain order some order in the country. After the American “liberation” there was no order at all. The situation became worse than before. This gave rise to local warlords who took advantage to fill in the power vacuum. The result is today’s version of chaotic Iraq.
The moral of this story is, be thankful for any type of government for their existence because it is still better than anarchy. This also tells is why God has not removed all the bad governments in this world. Their sudden removal without replacement will throw many countries into anarchy. There will be more suffering to the people. So, God is being merciful here.
Does this mean the situation will never change? The answer is no. There is something we believers can do and it is called prayers or intercession. We can change the situation by praying for our governments. Whatever they lack of, pray for God to bless them with. If you have a government that lacks compassion, pray for God to give them compassion. If they lack wisdom in managing the country, pray for God to give them wisdom. This is what our God wants us to do to them.
Having said that, it does not mean that we cannot vote for an alternative during election. When you vote, vote for the person you want but once the election is over, the person who wins will become the legitimate government in your country. Your role is to pray for this person.
This is what God wants us to do. When we obey, we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.