Prayer is one of the aspects of the Christian life that most of us are pretty sure we understand. I hasten to add that we don’t think we understand all of it by any means. We are still baffled why God answers some prayers in the way we expect and want and doesn’t answer others. We might struggle with finding time pray or think we could pray better but all in all we’re pretty sure we get it.
This isn’t any sort of “gotcha” introduction. I am not about to tell you that “actually you don’t know how to pray AT ALL!” or anything like that. However, there is one area where we might need to apply some additional thought. We might need to re-think who we pray for and who we don’t. St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, has some things to say about prayer and who we pray to and why.
Paul tells us that we are to pray for everyone and then goes on to say that we are supposed to pray for those in authority over us. It is only human nature to feel, at least once in a while, that we don’t want to pray for people we didn’t vote for and of whom we disapprove. The problem of course, is that the text doesn’t tell us to pray for people we like or for people who believe the same things we do or for politicians, bosses and parents who do what we want. We are called to pray for those in authority over us, and it isn’t too much of a stretch to include people who are in authority over anyone, not just our own bosses and such.
There are some real benefits for doing this, other than the obvious one of obedience to Scripture. When we pray we are changed. When we pray for people we are more sympathetic toward them. When we pray we become less judgemental and more gracious. Not a lot of down side really.
Knox Presbyterian But I don’t want to pray for . . . .
St. Mark’s Presbyterian But I don’t want to pray for . . . .