First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-3
“First of all” today’s Scripture commands us to pray! That speaks priority, that one thing we do before we do other things. We offer up to God our “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving” for all people. This is our holy calling as believer-priests conferred with the honor of going before Heaven’s throne on behalf of others (1 Peter 2:5, 9). We call this intercession (from inter– “between” = cedere “go”). We literally take up the privileged position of “going between” God and others. Richard Foster says: “When we move from petition to intercession we are shifting our center of gravity from our own needs to the needs and concerns of others.” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home)
When we pray for others God is expressing through us the wideness of His love for the world. To pray for others in the privacy of our quiet place is one of our most generous, self-forgetful acts of love. With the Old Testament prophet Samuel we would say: “Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the community must enter every day.” (Life Together)
After I have prayed for my family and friends it is easy for me to stop praying. So I like to follow the guideline for prayer found in The Book of Common Prayer; intercession is to be offered up for:
The Universal Church, its members, and its mission;
The Nation and all in authority;
The welfare of the world;
The concerns of the local community;
Those who suffer and those in any trouble.
Today’s Scripture says this kind of prayer for everyone “is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.”
- Pray in one of the two following ways:
Offer up intercessory prayer using the guideline from The Book of Common Prayer (see above).
Think of three persons for whom you want to pray. One, a loved one; one, a person you know about; lastly, a person who has hurt or offended you. See each person held by God in His loving arms. Ponder how Christ died for each of these persons. Know God’s purpose to reconcile the world to Himself in Christ Jesus. Offer up each of these three persons to God. After spoken prayer, rest for a while as the Holy Spirit “intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26b).
“God creates something He can create in no other way than through intercessory prayer.”
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest