Part of caring for and loving others is taking them before the throne of God. E. M. Bounds knew the importance of prayer for ministry. The 19th-century pastor once wrote, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.”
In today’s reading, Paul instructs Timothy and the Ephesian church regarding proper worship. He begins by pointing out the central importance of prayer. Of first importance was that “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (v. 1). Here Paul emphasizes two points. The first is that the church in its corporate meetings should be characterized by prayer. He uses four terms to highlight different aspects of prayer, including requests, intercessions, and thanksgiving.
The second point Paul highlights is that these prayers should be for all people. Notice that he uses the inclusive word “all” six times in these seven verses. All kinds of prayers should be made for all kinds of people. This even includes Caesar and others in governmental authority (v. 2). False teachers in Ephesus may have been teaching that prayer should be reserved for the spiritually deserving. Paul counters that view by reminding the Ephesians that God “wants all people to be saved” (v. 4). Since there is only one God, it means that He created all humanity and cares for it (v. 5). He sent Jesus who gave His life as “ransom for all people” (v. 6). It does not mean that everyone will be saved, but it does mean that the gospel message can and should be proclaimed to all. As further proof, Paul points out that he was commissioned by God as an apostle to the Gentiles (v. 7).
>> Examine your prayer list. It is natural for us to spend the most time praying for those who are closest to us, our family and friends. Paul encourages us to expand our horizons and pray for “all people.” This includes government officials and believers around the world.
Today’s Bible passage highlights several kinds of prayer: request, intercession, thanksgiving. Choose one of these and lift up to God the people closest to you first, then government officials, all believers, and leaders around the world.