Pray With Holy Hands Lifted Up to God


1 Timothy 2:1–8 (NLT) Instructions about Worship

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. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.  In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

Paul’s first letter to Timothy was sent to Paul’s protege, Timothy.  Timothy was the son of a Greek man and a devout Jewish Christian mother and grandmother.  (2 Tim. 1:5)  He was highly respected by those in his home church of Lystra, and in the nearby town of Iconium.  Paul calls him, “my true son in the faith.”  (1:2)  He joined Paul on his second missionary journey.  Paul speaks of prophetic words that were spoken over Timothy regarding his spiritual gifts.  (1 Tim. 1:18)

Paul, in prison in Rome, had appointed Timothy over the church in Ephesus, and his purpose in writing is to help the young pastor to shepherd the church in his charge.  “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”  (1 Tim. 1:5)  But the church in Asia was threatened by false teachers.  Paul writes to warn the church against these false teachings.

In this passage, Paul writes about how to conduct oneself in God’s household (1 Tim. 2:1-3:13).  So this passage begins another of Paul’s household codes (2:1-15).  Paul begins with a general encouragement to prayer.  “Pray for all people.  Ask God to help them.  Intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”  (v. 1)  Paul commands the church to pray “for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”  (v. 2)  Remember who was emperor at this time?  It was the violene, cruel, and despised Nero, who persecuted the church and executed both Peter and Paul.

Prayer for our government leaders has a practical purpose:  “so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”  Prayer in this case focuses on the mission of the church.  While it is true that the Good News has been spread by the blood of the martyrs, yet Paul enjoins the church to pray for peace so that the work of the church may spread in as much as possible to those around us.  I think Paul is especially thinking about the disruption caused by riot and war, as opposed to the ability to travel and work to spread the Gospel in times of peace.  Paul and the other missionaries benefited greatly from the pax romana, the peace of Rome.  The pax romana allowed the Roman army to build good roads throughout all the Roman Empire, and to keep travelers safe from bandits on the roads.  This pax romana enabled missionaries to spread the Gospel from one end of the empire to the other.

In our culture, there has been a lack of respect that I have observed among Christians for our leaders.  If we disagree with them on any stance, then we not only do not pray for them, but we vilify them.  I have seen good Christians who are otherwise loving treat our president as if he were the anti-Christ.  I have seen good believers posting on Facebook as Facebook trolls vilifying people who disagree with them on any point about politics, or a particular candidate, or a government official.  Think about your witness online before you post something online.  Just because disagree with someone does not give us the right to speak disrespectfully about them.

Newsflash:  No party in the United States represents the biblical point of view in my opinion.  No party has a lock on biblical truth.  If you think I’m wrong, then prove me wrong.  Belief in America and its values is not the same as biblical faith.

Christians, having a particular point of view does not give you the right to forget your faith and speak about those who are in authority in government in such a way.  This is a blatant sin!  Instead, Paul urges us to pray for our government leaders, and all who are in authority.  I see no other way to read this.   Speak respectfully about our president, whoever he or she is, or don’t say anything at all.  (That’s what my grandmother used to say:  If you don’t have something good to say about someone, then its better to say nothing at all.)  We can disagree without speaking disrespectfully about people.

Here is a link for ideas about how to pray for our government leaders from

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