Praying for Others
Praying for others is a way of life for believers. The Apostle Paul, however, took the time to go beyond the obvious in that regard, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1–4). It’s not just for brethren but also for all men and in particular, kings and all who are in authority. For a church that had faced a great deal of persecution from those in authority, this may not have been the first thing on their minds when they knelt down to pray. In all likelihood, it needed to be said for their own spiritual growth.
It may not be the first thing that comes to our minds either. Given the increasingly anti-God culture that we live in, it could seem like a mouthful of very strong meat to have to chew and swallow. Abraham too, could have balked at God’s instruction when he was told to pack up and leave his home in order to go to a place, he knew nothing about. But he didn’t. By faith in God and not in carnal human reasoning, he simply obeyed God. And though it was a move fraught with many and varied difficulties, God poured out priceless blessings upon both he and his descendants after him.
Praying for others who might hate most of the things that we believe and stand for gives us a chance to follow Christ’s lead. Solomon wrote, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21–22). Why give your enemy food and drink? Well, there is always a chance that it will prick their conscience and thereby, with enough pressure (heat), direct their steps toward God. It’s not a foreign concept. We also, were once enemies of Christ who gave Himself for us before we even came to repentance. Praying for others who hate us is the very same thing in principle.
Christ sums up Paul’s instruction to us very clearly. ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43–48).
Praying for all men is our way of life and perfection in progress!