Do you pray for peace in the world? Not just peace among warring nations, but peace among people, peace within ourselves, and peace with the rest of creation?
In a world where news about politics and conflicts seems to dominate the headlines, it may seem that finding peace is an unattainable goal. Still, we find this instruction from Paul to Timothy in the Bible:
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. 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. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT
Praying for other people that we love is a pretty natural response. As we start to understand how much joy God offers to them, we want them to enjoy those blessings. While prayers for others often relate to healing and safety, prayers for their wisdom, growth, and other blessings are also appropriate. When I overhear my wife praying with our youngest son, and thanking God for him, I am also challenged to include thanksgiving for people in my life as part of my prayers, and not just events.
Praying for leaders is perhaps something we need to remember more frequently. With news that seems to scrutinize every politician’s word and action, we have plenty of opportunities to pray for them, but first we have to get past our emotional responses to these reports. In addition, there are plenty of other leaders who need our prayers, including those in local government, business and non-profit organizations, and the church.
But why should we pray for other people, including those we don’t like (even “all people”)? For many people, “because God said so” is enough of a reason. However, God also gives us insight here into His instructions, through Paul the apostle. These verses capture several key reasons why we should pray for others.
For one thing, praying for those in authority can help us get some peace and quiet. It might be noisy outside (especially if you live near the train tracks), but there is a calm when God-directed leaders are governing without interfering, even as God blesses His followers and the city around them.
When we pray for others, and God grants us peace for them (and peace with them), our lives can focus more on God and good behavior that glorifies Him. Our mind is less cluttered with concern for our friends and loved ones, nor troubled by our former enemies who have since found peace with us and with their Creator.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that this is what God wants. This isn’t just an arbitrary command, but rather something that pleases the God who loves people so much that He wants them to find salvation through Jesus Christ, who embodies Truth.
So, both in your regular prayer time, and as you cross paths with other people (or hear stories about them), take the time to pray for others. Ask that God’s direction would be clear to them. Ask for God to draw them to Himself, that they might be reconciled with Him. Ask for God’s provision, healing, and blessings on them. And, if you are so frustrated with someone that you simply don’t want to pray for God’s hand to work positively in their lives, remember this passage, and why we are to pray for others in the first place.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.