Readings for September 22, 2019
1 Timothy 2:1-8
When all goes as planned, I start and end my day in prayer. In the quiet of the early morning, I offer prayers for my family and special intentions for those who are close to me who I know are in need of prayer—usually for something specific. Then, at the end of the day, we pray as a family, listing off all of our loved ones and asking God to bless them. We also include various intentions for our friends and neighbors as we hear about illnesses or life changes that require extra support and prayer.
But this week, St. Paul reminds us to reach out beyond our routine of prayers for family and for those close to us. He says, “I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, and for kings and all in authority.” And while St. Paul’s instruction may seem a bit indiscriminate, such prayer “is good and pleasing to God our Savior, who wills everyone to be saved.”
And in case pleasing God wasn’t enough incentive, Paul reminds us why we want to please God, saying that our prayers for all, inclusive of those we don’t know and those who lead us, may help us to “lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.” Of course, this isn’t an exhortation to the easy life–pining away in a comfortable chair with a Bible on our lap. Rather, this is a reminder that to do what is pleasing to God in “knowledge of the truth” is to live in the peace of Christ.
After reflecting on this instruction, I am reminded of when Jesus asked, “If you love only those who love you, what is your reward? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only those closest to you, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do the same?” (Matthew 5:46-48) So it seems that we who hope to rise above our sins, need to cast a wide net of prayer.
And with this wide net, we must also pray unceasingly. For even though it is clear that my prayers will not penetrate all hearts, at least not in ways that I can see, my prayers can always penetrate my own heart. And this is just as important, because there is always room to grow within my own heart–to love God more, or simply better–and to see those frayed seams within myself that also need mending.
I do right when I focus on this, because in the fullness of time, Jesus will judge what is in our hearts. And if, in searching our hearts, he finds our earnest prayer for all to come to the knowledge and truth of God, then I believe he will be pleased and say, “well done good and faithful servant.”
Lord Jesus Christ, you came to give life to the world. Through God the Father, you will that all be saved. Thank you for your saving grace. May the hearts of all turn toward you to accept the salvation you offer in love and mercy. And may our leaders seek to do your will as they lead your flock. Jesus, I trust in you. Have mercy on me and on the whole world. Amen