Today we are talking about what the word “all” might mean for us in a particular context. The Lectionary’s Epistle lesson for this Sunday is 1 Timothy 2:1-7, we focused primarily on the first three verses.
“1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (NRSV)
There are a few instances of the word “all” in those few lines with the addition of “everyone” a couple of times to make certain we know we are talking about everybody.
Paul begins by exhorting us to to pray for everyone. Everyone. Not the people we like. Not the people who think we are wonderful. Not the people who think the same way we do. Everyone.
Then to make it even “worse,” Paul tell us to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions.” We can try telling ourselves that Paul wouldn’t tell us to pray for those in high positions if he knew the kind of people we’d have to pray for but let’s not forget when Paul was writing. It is quite possible the emperor of the time was Nero. I don’t know who your particular least favourite is of our current crop of leaders but I don’t have to know to tell you she/he/they are NO Nero. Paul meant it when he said pray for those in high positions, regardless of their goodness, badness, or uselessness.
As I type this, Canada is moving toward a federal election. I don’t know if it will solve everything but I am going to try to pray for any politician before I talk about them. I suspect it will change the general tenor of what I say. Give it a try, if you are so inclined, and let me know what happens.
I have some other things to say about prayer in these sermons, including noting how praying for others changes us. Let me know what you think.