Sermon for Sunday, September 22nd, 2019, the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
The Lessons: Psalm 79:1-9; Jeremiah 8:18 – 9:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13
The Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
The Topic: God’s command to intercede for all in authority
In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push.
After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave his car running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years.
Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, “Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life.
For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting the power to work.
J.B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 1:19-20, “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.” When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us.1
INTERCEDING IN THE POWER OF GOD FOR OTHERS
The connection of the faithful to God in prayer is vital for the work and ministry of continual intercession for all people. We have to be obeying St. Paul’s command in Ephesians 6:18 (KJV):
This prayer is an essential part of our spiritual warfare. Christians may wonder if their prayers are having any good effect on those for whom they pray, but they must continue in prayer daily, and be persistent in their intercessions. Even when we do that, we may not always see the results soon.
THE EPISTLE: 1 TIMOTHY 2:1-7: INTERCESSION FOR ALL IN AUTHORITY
In our Epistle/Second Lesson today, we are given the command to pray and give thanks for all men, including kings, and all that are in authority. In this matter, St. Paul makes no concessions concerning the politics of rulers, that if one disagrees with them, one is exempt from praying for them. Whatever we believe about our rulers and political leaders, we must continually pray for them, and give thanks to God for them. What is the purpose of this prayer? So that God may bring the politicians into conformity with our idea of what they should be doing, and how they should be leading and governing this nation? St. Paul states quite clearly the purpose of this prayer is that Christians may lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,” (1 Timothy 2:2), so as to please God, whose will it is that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). A peaceful, quiet society and community life will be conducive to the success of Christians’ ministry of prayer and evangelism to bring people to turn from their sin and come to know God and the truth of the Gospel.
Some might argue that the prayers of many Christians in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68) did not prevent Christian martyrdoms in that era, or cause the Roman Emperors to convert to Christianity immediately. However, since we do not know all things, whereas God does, we cannot tell what benefits resulted from the prayers of Christians in the time of Nero, but we do know that a little less than three hundred years later, Christianity was made an official religion of the Roman Empire, and persecution ceased for the most part.
Even now, we do not know the effects of the prayers of many Christians in the USA and in the world for this nation and for all nations. Much more evil may have been prevented or lessened than we think. In times when school curricula and syllabi in public schools are being influenced more and more by ungodly officials, we must pray all the more, and pray also for our President, Cabinet members, and members of Congress, that God’s will be done in all legislation that is enacted, and that each Branch of Government will adhere to its role as defined by the Constitution of the United States. There are so many in authority that need our prayers, that our whole nation may live free of violence in peace and quiet. The goal of our prayer is ultimately such a peaceful society, in which all may come to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, and know the truth.
When we see the world around us growing more evil and leaders not behaving as they should, nor setting the good examples in speech and behavior that they should, we must turn to God in prayer all the more earnestly, that His kingdom may come among us, and His will be done (Matthew 6:10). Now is the time to deepen our life of prayer, thanksgiving, praise and intercession, and not to lessen it.
Are you praying for our President and all in authority as often and as earnestly as you should? Are you praying for a peaceful and quiet society, and the retaining of religious freedom, including the freedom to share your Christian faith with others?
1 p. 409, Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal: 750 Engaging Illustrations. Grand Rapids, Michigan: BakerBooks, 2002. 2nd printing, 2008.