Prayer According to the Word

"I EXHORT therefore, that, FIRST OF ALL, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made FOR ALL MEN; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

Subjection to this exhortation of God's Word will preserve Christians from praying according to a narrow nationalism as though God were the God of one nation only, or of one nation and its allies. In former days, when God for His own purposes proclaimed Himself as the God of Israel, it was right for Israel to pray thus, but it is entirely wrong now, for God's attitude towards all men of every nation is the same in this dispensation of grace — He will have all men to be saved — and "there is one God, and one Mediator between GOD AND MEN, the Man Christ Jesus." If we are to pray intelligently and in a way acceptable to God we must pray according to this revelation of Himself, otherwise we falsify His character, and this would be a serious thing for those who belong to His household to do.

"ALL MEN" excludes none, whether they act as enemies or friends; indeed, it would seem right on the Christian's part to be the most in earnest in his prayers for those who are against him, for has not the Lord commanded His disciples so to act, and did He not Himself leave us an example in this when He cried from the anguish of the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"? We pray for the salvation of the souls of British soldiers and sailors on land and sea — young, careless, perhaps, standing face to face with death — and much they need our prayers; but the souls of those by whose guns they are menaced are of equal value in the sight of God, and He who has no favourites among the nations of the earth commands us to pray for these as well; and for the silent, sorrowing multitudes, mostly, women, in the background. How much these need to know a Saviour-God, and His great compassions. It is true that our responsibility begins at home, in the circle nearest to us, but God's heart goes out to the whole world, and ours should embrace the same wide circle.

"FOR KINGS, AND FOR ALL THAT BE IN AUTHORITY." Not for one king only; we are to honour the one king under whose rule we are (1 Peter 2:16), but to pray for kings, and all who rule; for the liberty of the Christian to serve God, and an open door for the gospel depends so much upon the acts of rulers of the earth, and it should be a matter of equal concern to us that God's people are able to serve Him, and that the gospel should be unhindered in other lands as in this. God's testimony — that He is a Saviour-God — is for all men, and we must connect ourselves with this world-wide grace, or we shall be out of the current of God's thoughts.

And for "ALL SAINTS." In Christ "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free [British or German]: but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11). There are many fellow-members with us in the body of Christ who are forced by the laws of their land in which they dwell to take the sword, in what may appear to be an unrighteous cause. These are bound to us by stronger and more enduring ties than any the world knows, and as we pray for all saints these must not be forgotten, or our prayers will grieve the Holy Spirit of God who indwells them, as He does us. May God grant that these in their trials, with us, and all others who love the Lord Jesus, may in these last days be established in holiness before God, even our Father, and be preserved in spirit, soul, and body, blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.