I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. – 1 Timothy 2:1 – 2
In this Bible text, Paul is instructing Timothy to pray for all people and for kings and those in authority. Christians today believe this text instructs them to do the same.
The text is especially relevant at times of political uncertainty. When Christians are tempted to despair over current political realities, prayer is one thing we can do.
But what is the purpose of this instruction?
Paul recognizes that what kings and people in authority do can impact the lives of people for good or for ill. Therefore, we pray that those in authority make decisions that make it possible for people to live peaceful and quiet lives.
But what happens when those in authority make decisions that make it impossible for people to live peaceful and quiet lives? This is where the African proverb is crucial: When you pray, move your feet.
Sometimes prayer takes the form of non-violent action that pushes against unjust decisions. This is an important part of the Christian tradition that has taken many forms throughout history.
God often responds to prayers against injustice by mobilizing God’s people to work for justice in the world. Part of the work involves working directly against unjust actions of those in power.
Do you want to live a quiet and peaceful life? Do you wish such a life for all people? Then pray for those in power, because what they do can make that possible or impossible. When those in power make it impossible, keep praying, but when you pray, move your feet.