“For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2 KJV).
There is an ancient maxim that spans many centuries and cultures: “The fish stinks from the head.” This axiomatic truth underscores an unfortunate reality; poor leadership at the top of a human organizational structure often leads to failure throughout the rest of the organization. While some leadership failures may affect a limited number of people, large-scale leadership failures on a national level might affect millions of others.
This means that 1 Timothy 2:2 is more than just a good idea; it reminds us that it is critically important to pray for governing authorities. One commentator offers some wise counsel in this regard: “Such rulers as kings can, by their mistakes, bring untold sorrow upon all their subjects, as well as rich blessings through righteous rule. Therefore, the church should never forget to pray for such leaders.” (1)
It is also important to note that this directive applies not only to national political leaders; it also encompasses “all that are in authority.” In other words, this passage applies to anyone in a position of leadership, oversight, or governance. Such individuals might include church leaders, law enforcement authorities, managers, supervisors, local officials, and others who hold similar positions of responsibility. Any institution populated by fallible human beings can benefit from those who seek to pray for them.
While it may be easy to criticize the failings of those who hold leadership positions, it seems there are far fewer who are willing to pray for God to invest those leaders with the wisdom, perception, and discernment necessary to make good decisions. As one source observes…
“Why pray for these men? Because it will effect certain changes in them and their administration that would not otherwise prevail. God is still ruling in the affairs of men. It is still God who raises up and casts down the rulers of this nation and word. God does not operate on man’s schedule—but He acts in answer to the prayers prayed like Daniel of old did (Cf. Dan_6:10).
Not only so, but the very attitude necessary to pray after this manner, would help the one praying to be able to lead a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and gravity. Such will be true in any society at any time. ‘Tranquil’ refers to the outward calm, ‘Quiet’ refers to the inward condition of the one praying.” (2)
(1) Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:1”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. “https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-timothy-2.html“. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
(2) Don De Welt, Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus, [Comment 2:1–7] College Press, Joplin, Missouri Copyright 1961 https://archive.org/stream/BibleStudyTextbookSeriesTimothyAndTitus/18TimothyAndTitus_djvu.txt