Evangelistic Praying and Nation Building: 1 Timothy 2:1-8
“1) First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2) for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3) This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1-4‬
I call this “evangelistic praying.” It seems that Paul is urging Timothy to pray for the salvation of lost people, especially kings and those in civil authority. God wants people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He urged that entities and prayer, petitions and thanksgiving be made on behalf of lost people.
I must be honest, not all scholars share this opinion. I once heard a noted seminary professor speak on this text. He shared that the paying in this text was that “we might lead a quit and tranquil life in all godliness and dignity.” Being an declared Calvinist, he rejected the notion that we should waste time praying for lost people who may not be among the elect. He followed this up by saying; “We have no example in the Bible of praying for the salvation of lost people.”
Being an evangelist I strongly disagreed with his statement. I respectfully waited until after the service to privately question him about his statement. We had a great relationship. I politely asked him; “How does Romans 10:1 square with your statement that there is no record in the Bible of praying for the salvation of lost people?” He turned and started reading; “1) Brethren, my hearts desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” He suddenly became very sober and even perplexed. He then said, “I have honestly never noticed this verse before, let me get back to you.”
It must have been a long week for him as the Holy Spirit used this verse in his life. To his credit, the next Sunday he opened his message with a retraction. He said, “I must correct a wrong statement I made in last weeks sermon, the Bible does indeed have an example of praying for the salvation of lost people.” He then went on to talk about the importance of honoring the Word of God above theological bias and when they disagree, you must yield to the authority of Scripture.
I love theology, but I am very careful not to make dogmatic statements based on theological bias. We can think logically to erroneous conclusions.
The Bible is full of mysteries that cast shadows on the dogma and conclusions of sincere and good theologians. I would rather wrestle with paradoxical tensions in Scripture than embrace erroneous conclusions that could dampen my walk with God. I try not to put parameters and boundaries around God not clearly defined in the Bible.
Another prime example is the erroneous belief that “God no longer does miracles today.” This conclusion is totally contrary to the witness of Scripture. Yet many Christians stuff God in that tiny box and the result is a mundane prayer life and dismal Christian walk.
The point remains, God wants praying to pave the way for preaching and sharing the gospel. He wants us to bind the strong man in prayer as we attempt to plunder his goods. (Matthew 12:29) He wants us to become skilled in using the weapons of our warfare to pull down strongholds as we seek to spread the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Paul begged Timothy to make intercessory prayer his number one method for spreading the gospel and doing ministry. I believe that concerted intercessory can change the spiritual, social and political landscape of nations and the world.
Revival and awakening will never come to a prayerless nation. (See 2 Chronicles 7:13-14) God calls His people seek Him in humble and urgent prayer for lost people and wayward people and especially civil leaders. He wants us to pray and preach the gospel in the process of nation building.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global