Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to sort out matters threatening the existence of the church (1:3-11). Being a young pastor in challenging circumstances is not for the fainthearted. Young pastors (Timothy) need older pastors (Paul) who can guide them by experience and by godly wisdom, older men who can say to younger men in their distress, “…well, I have seen this kind of problem before, and it’s not going to destroy the church, because I know that the mercy, grace and peace (1:2) of the Lord Jesus Christ will keep the church”. And so we find Paul writing this letter to help his younger colleague with respect to shepherding the church through its various challenges.
As we progress through this letter, we find today Paul’s counsel to Timothy concerning the importance of public prayer in worship. Today, we are reminded from the Scriptures that prayer, and especially public prayer is no side issue in the church. It ought to be a core activity in the life of the Christian church. Whatever we fail to do as a church, we cannot fail in being faithful in prayer, and particularly in public prayer.
Vv.1-2 Paul says: “FIRST OF ALL then (or therefore), I urge that supplications (requests), prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and a quiet life , godly and dignified in every way.”
(i) “First of all…” here means, as a matter of first priority, indicating that prayer is no arbitrary matter.
(ii) The little word “then” (or ‘therefore’) connects Paul’s thoughts with the preceding context in 1:18–20 and gives us a reason why prayer is significant. There Paul exhorted Timothy to "wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience". He reminds Timothy that by rejecting faith and a good conscience, one may run the risk of making shipwreck of one’s faith. This had been the sad case of men like Hymenaeus and Alexander (1:20). We had seen earlier that the church at Ephesus was being undermined by people who were teaching a different doctrine (1:3), and Paul exhorted Timothy that he needed to bring the church back to the true gospel.
Clearly, the church is at war, and very often the war comes right into the church, bringing with it inevitable casualties (see 1:6,20). Pastors themselves are always at risk in such situations, for they too can become casualties if they do not hold tightly on to the gospel of the Lord Jesus with faith and a good conscience. The church needs faithful and conscientious soldiers who are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus. The church was empowered by the Lord Jesus after His ascension and at Pentecost to spearhead the advance of the gospel in a fallen world. She is the agent by which the gates of hell are pushed back, and therefore she is Satan’s sworn enemy. It is against this background that Paul reminds Timothy concerning the importance of prayer. Paul’s actual letter to the Ephesians in 6: 18-20 reveals that prayer is a significant tool in this spiritual war. The church gains ground in the world when she prays. Conversely, she loses ground when she doesn’t pray!
(iii) I urge (Gr. parakaleō ; to exhort , beseech)… indicating again that this is a priority. Paul urges Timothy that he must lead the church in prayer for all kinds of people. Think about that for a few moments. This congregation of Jewish and Gentile Christians is found in an hostile environment. Nero is the emperor, and the Roman authorities who crucified Jesus are not friendly to Christians. In addition, the Jewish community in Rome is antagonistic to Christians. Paul is saying to these Christians, “put your requests, or supplications forward to God for all kinds of people; pray for all kinds of people; intercede for all kinds of people, and where applicable give thanks for all kinds of people, even for the government under which you live.” This is a remarkable exhortation, given the fact that Christians lived under precarious circumstances in the Roman world.
(iv) “… that we may lead a peaceful and a quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” One of the goals of prayer is seen here : By prayer we ask God to enter into the hearts and minds of all kinds of people in our society, especially kings and all those who are in high positions, who potentially have so much power to disrupt our lives by causing us not to live in peace and in quiet and with dignity. Part of our public prayer is therefore to pray for our country, our politicians and our churches so that we may life in peace and quiet and with dignity. This is the essential foundation for the spread of the gospel. Christians desire an ordered society for the sake of all its citizens, but especially because then we can fulfill our God-given responsibilities without hindrance.
Therefore we read next…
Vv. 3-4 This (prayer) is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour , who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Here are some further goals of prayer. Paul says that such prayer which seeks the face of God, is good. God is pleased to hear such prayer, and so we as a church need to hear this , understand this, and do this, because (this is another goal in prayer) this sort of prayer underlies effective biblical evangelism of our community. Therefore in prayer (and especially public prayer) we make requests of God; we pray; we intercede; we give thanks where it is appropriate and remember that the goal of our public prayer is the salvation of all kinds of people. Here Paul encourages Timothy to lead the church in prayer that all kinds of people would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In this prayer there is a promise for us. If God expects us to pray, and if such prayer is good and pleasing to God then we can confidently say that prayer is a public means of grace. That means that we can expect that God will answer such prayers because they are good and pleasing to Him. They are in accordance with God’s goals that the whole world would hear His Word. And so, Paul was saying to Timothy, “Make sure that among the other elements of worship on the Lord’s day, you lead the Ephesian church in prayer for all kinds of people, including kings and all in authority.”
In this regard , the wise words of Bishop John Charles Ryle come to mind:
“It is easy to criticise and find fault with the conduct of kings, and write furious articles against them in newspapers, or make violent speeches about them on platforms. Any fool can rip and rend a costly garment, but not every man can cut out and make one. To expect perfection in kings, prime ministers, or rulers of any kind, is senseless and unreasonable. We should exhibit more wisdom if we prayed for them more, and criticised less” .
And now take notice concerning the extent of this prayer : … “pray for all people…” (2:1)… God, our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”(2:4). All people! What are we to understand here? Are we to literally expect all people on earth to be saved as a result of our prayer? As desirable as we may find this thought, it is not likely that this was what Paul had in mind when he wrote this. What Paul had in mind was based on an Old Testament hope, namely that one day “the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”, namely that all the nations would be united in the worship of the One True God. It is thus not so much every person that is in mind here (although we should always work and pray as if everyone could be saved), but the big thought here is that all kinds of people and from all kinds of nations are envisaged here. Is this not what we are seeing today? Haven’t the nations everywhere become aware of the Lord Jesus? Is this not what we are publicly praying for every Sunday night as we systematically pray for the countries of our world?
Vv.5 &6 “For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.“ The reason why we are praying for the whole world is because of these words. There is not one God for the Muslim world and many gods for the Hindu world. NO! Why should we pray for all people? Because there is only one true God. There is only one true Saviour. He alone is the one hope of all humanity, and if He is the only hope, then it follows that if we don't pray for the world, what hope does the world have? And if this is God’s desire for the world then this must move us as Christians to pray for all kinds of people.
V.7 “ For this I was appointed as a preacher and an apostle ( I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the gentiles in faith and truth .” Paul includes himself in the mission of God. He tells us here that God's desire for the world is what propelled him into the ministry. The proof of the power of Paul's ministry to the Gentiles is we who are gathered here in this auditorium today! You and I would not be here today if God not appointed Paul to take this message not just to the Jew, but also to the Gentiles.
Paul is outlining the basis of world missions through the church. The primary means by which God does this is by prayer, praying first, that the people of a nation, including their rulers would be favourably disposed, if not converted to the gospel. This makes gospel preaching easier. It is not easy or possible to preach the gospel in the war torn Middle East.
It is surely God’s desire that the nations should receive the gospel. There is no other Saviour, no other Name given by which man can be saved. This is why we are here this morning to make sure that God’s Word is widely spread in our city, country, continent and world by prayer and the Word. This is the old and proven apostolic method (Acts 6:4).
Thank God, that Paul and Timothy bore this conviction, and because of their faithfulness in preaching the gospel to the gentiles we are here this morning to also celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus died for all those that would be brokenhearted over their sin, and who would look to Him for the answer to that sin, and who come to Him.
 See also 1:5
 Alexander is also mentioned in 2 Tim 4:14
 throughout this epistle, Paul talks about those who have wandered away from the faith see also 1:6 ; 6:10,21
 Gr. parakaleo – to exhort see also 1:3
 J.C. Ryle : The Upper Room , Chapter 21 “For Kings”, p.264
 Num,. 14:21; Ps 57:5,11; 72:19 ; Isa 11:9 ; Hab. 2:14