If, therefore, our practical and pastoral concern is limited to what occurs within the confines of the church – whether its building, programmes, members or activities – we then leave the public space open to being taken over by the adversary with those in that space being captured by him and held in his grip. As Christians we must not retreat from the public space.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV
In this pastoral letter, giving instructions for how a church should properly function, Paul urges us to give priority to various kinds of prayer. To that end we need to pray for various people, but with the particular focus especially on praying for our national leaders, councillors, the police, judiciary etc. – – any who are in positions of authority and influence.
The direction for our prayers is so that we have the kind of society which is marked by peacableness/lack of unrest and division, a respect for all people and godliness (including a fear of God and a desire to live in a righteous manner). The current restlessness, discord and disturbances over the gender and sexuality issues should cause us concern and galvanise us to corporate prayer. Beyond that, it should motivate a practical concern that society as a whole should be able to access all the help and provision that people need to make this a reality.
The purpose of this is not an end in itself, but so that the gospel may flourish (vv3-4) and that all may come to know the Mediator and Redeemer who is spoken of in the ensuing verses. It is such a concern for society that has motivated the great evangelical, social movements of yesteryear. It is when this concern is demonstrated that opportunities for witness to the gospel occur as we can point them to Jesus. The kind of society we have is determined not only by our prayers but by practical concern that flows from the church being a ‘house of prayer for all peoples’ (Isaiah 56 v7 ESV)
If, therefore, our practical and pastoral concern is limited to what occurs within the confines of the church – whether its building, programmes, members or activities – we then leave the public space open to being taken over by the adversary with those in that space being captured by him and held in his grip. As Christians we must not retreat from the public space. If people wish to live lives free, for example, of the indignity of LGBT ideology, they should be able to access the medical, psychological and pastoral help and provision to enable them do this. Prayer for those in high position should not only include legislators, but social workers, teachers, the medical profession and counsellors. The dignity of moving away from same-sex attraction should be offered to all and should be the concern of all the churches (as we would want ,for example, for those with addiction to alcohol or drugs). Such a concern is not a separate issue from the gospel, but intrinsic to an effective presentation of the gospel and its witness.