“A peaceful and quiet life” isn’t exactly a phrase you’ll hear on the news these days. When my dad originally wrote this devotion in the 1970s, the scenario wasn’t much different. No, the headlines back then were not about COVID-19 or racially charged unrest, but the world was filled with chaos and havoc in other ways: corrupt world leaders, fighting in the Middle East, an impending energy crisis, and of course the radio being held hostage by the advent of disco…
Seriously speaking, a world full of bad news has not changed much over the past 45 years, so let’s take a look back at these (slightly edited/updated) words from the Dr. Dave archives:
What should concerned Christians do about the mayhem that surrounds us these days? Do we give in to despair? Do we try to take on the world and straighten things out? Do we run away from society and escape to our own Christian safe haven?
Well, the Bible doesn’t tell us to do these things. It tells us we should PRAY!
“Yeah, yeah…” you might say, “That’s the classic, canned Christian answer! When in doubt, it always comes back to the same thing, ‘Pray!’ But will things in the world really change? It seems like we never see things get any better.”
Do you ever feel that way about prayer? Sometimes it may feel like our prayers are not very effective, especially during times of worldwide turmoil. But before going any further, let’s ask ourselves: Did I actually pray for my city leaders and the President today? Did I actually pray for a swift resolution to the Coronavirus situation and the restoration of our jobs and national economy today? Did I actually pray for the end of racial divides and discrimination today? Did I actually pray for increased understanding, sensitivity and love among all people today? Or have I been more focused on just throwing my own opinions around (and feeding into the social media frenzy)?
Does that hit home with anyone? Let’s go a step further and see what 1 Timothy 2 has to say about this.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 - 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. 2 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. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
Pray for others first
1 Timothy 2:1 puts it clearly: first of all, we should pray for all people. So much of our prayer time is spent on us… our own desires, our own health, or our own plans and notions of what is right for us. There's nothing wrong with praying about our personal problems and requests, in fact, Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to do just that. But 1 Timothy 2 tells us that our first concern in prayer should be for "all people" and for God to “help them” -- which would include prayer for worldwide issues. And not just the headline problems of the day, but long-lasting issues such as hunger, military oppression, and human trafficking.
Pray for our leaders
The "kings and all who are in authority" of verse 2 includes anyone who is in a position of authority, prominence or influence. That means political leaders (from both parties!), educational leaders, industrial leaders and religious leaders at all levels. Pray for their decisions, pray for their salvation, pray for God to work through them, even if it seems unlikely. We should pray for anyone who is in authority over us – even if we don’t like them or agree with them.
Pray that we can lead godly and dignified lives
What should the goal of our prayers be? The end of verse 2 gives us our answer: “that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity." The Bible assures us that world conditions are not going to get any better (see 2 Timothy 3:1), but we are still to pray that the God of all grace would grant us peaceful and quiet lives. "This is good and pleases God our Savior." (v3).
Notice this passage does not suggest a slow or sedentary “peaceful” life so we can sit around watching TV. No, we should pray for peace so we can live godly and dignified lives… peace so we can worship and serve God in all seriousness… peace so that we can repair and rebuild relationships.
Pray for our freedom and the salvation of others
If we’ve seen anything in 2020, it’s that our world can change quickly and drastically. The simple freedoms we take for granted can vanish in a matter of hours. We should pray that our government will continue to let Christians worship freely. Pray that God would give strength, power and wisdom to the influential Christians of our time. We know it’s God's desire for “everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (v4). So we should pray that the conditions in our world will be such that the worship of Jesus Christ will not be harassed or distracted, and our outreach to others will not be hindered.
Pray that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
- Dave Reid (adapted by Ron Reid)