1 Timothy 2: 1-8
Tonight, we are paying particular attention to two specific words in this passage: all and every. They are adjectives that help inform how we ought to pray for the world and others. These are the same words used in John 3:16, used in this passage again and again. How do we pray for unbelievers? Do we pray, believing that Christ wants all to be saved? This phrase in verse 4 is striking, “Who desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” For us to think this way, that God wants us to pray for all people, because He desires that all come to the knowledge of the truth. He desires that all be saved.
We often have so many excuses not to pray for everyone we know who need to be saved. We might not say it aloud, but we think they are too sinful, or we’ve prayed for them so long with no fruit or they are extremely dedicated to another religion; they don’t want to talk about salvation. Maybe we’ve tried talking to them before, but it ends up hurting the relationship. So, we give up praying but we’ve forgotten that every person saved is a miracle. We are a miracle. When we think about our own salvation pride may creep in. Truth is, we are no different from the people God has placed around us who are not yet saved. We need to pray for a miracle.
When we pray for the government, we may think it would be great if some of our elected leaders were saved but doubt it will ever happen. So, we don’t pray because we think it is unlikely to happen. Or perhaps we get to know our neighbors – do we pray for them? Or those we have worked with for many years – we know their character. Maybe they are humanistic and do not care about spiritual things. So, we think, why waste my time praying for them? The Lord’s commandment is that we pray for them because His heart’s desire is that they be saved.
This same idea is found in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness.” Peter is telling the church the reason why the final judgment is put off is Jesus’ patience. He really wants people to be saved. The verse continues, “He is patient toward you. Not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance.” That means our friends and family, the spouses who have come to church and ridiculed us, the children who were a part of the church but want nothing to do with true faith, and our enemies.
This is a specific command to pray for those who need Christ because God desires that all be saved and come to a knowledge of a truth. This should encourage us; perhaps it reveals a lack of faith regarding those for whom we do not pray. By faith, we can come boldly and pray for the lost because God’s heart is that none should perish.