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 2:1-3]
Paul uses four words when he describes what we would call prayer for other people. This is not prayer for the church or for ourselves but for other people, particularly those with the power to harm us.
- Supplication [Gk. deēsis] – some commentators believe this word comes from the root word meaning “bind”. If that’s the case, then it means to bind yourself to someone else’s needs. In other words, we make their heart’s longings our own.
- Prayer [Gk. proseychē] – these types of prayers are focused on expressing general desires, but it also carries the idea of joining yourself to those desires.
- Intercession [Gk. enteyxis] – literally, this is the word for meeting. Intercession is the place where we encounter God and present the supplications and prayers. We step into the divine presence and offer human needs and longings.
- Thanksgiving [Gk. eycharistia] – derived from the word charis (“grace”), it means “a good grace”. These are prayers to God for the grace he has or will extend to those we pray for.
What is interesting is that Paul calls us to pray this way for all people so we may lead peaceful lives. In other words, they are prayers directed to God in the midst of crisis but focused on fulfilling Jesus’ vision.
We can glean from this that prayer is about others and about Jesus’ vision. God is not interested about hearing me whine about my own situation. It is what it is. We should always be praying for those things which advance his kingdom. (and if you have to EXPLAIN in multiple levels how it advances the kingdom, it doesn’t.)