David Shedlock at Caffeinated Thoughts makes an interesting point about 1 Timothy 2: 1-4, which exhorts Christians to pray for their leaders and people in authority. First, here is the Bible passage in question:
I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.
It is a prayer for the church. If we want to pray Biblical prayers, we will pray for Obama and Pelosi, Grassley and Harkin, for our mayors and our city council members that the church live in peace.
While we often do not agree with Shedlock, and in fact do not agree with all that he wrote in his post (for example, since he insists on precision, 2 Chronicles 7:14 was certainly not addressed to the church–it was addressed to the Jews), here he makes a valid and often overlooked point: We are to pray for our leaders so that the church can live and do its work in peace, so that all men can come to the full knowledge of the truth.
Every time we have ever heard this passage from 1 Timothy preached, it has always been to exhort people to pray for our leaders’ salvation and blessing. Yet, this is not what the passage is about.
As our leaders can be counted as among “all men”, we can, if we wish, pray for their salvation just as we would pray for anyone else’s salvation. And, of course, we can pray for our leaders to be blessed just as we can pray for anyone else to be blessed. However, here Paul is not exhorting us to pray for our leaders to either be saved or blessed. The distinction is the purpose of the prayer: The prayer is ultimately for the church, and not for the leaders’ personal good.
Could it be that the church is currently under siege in the US because many Christians are praying amiss?