The Duty of Public Intercession and Thanksgiving for Princes
1 Timothy 2:1-2
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;…


1. Our applications to God in behalf of the princes and rulers of this world are highly reasonable, as they are proper expressions of our good-will to mankind, whose fate is in their hands, and whose welfare in great measure depends upon their actions and conduct.

2. As the virtues and vices of those who govern, operate on all inferior ranks of men in the way of natural causes, so have they another and a more extraordinary effect; inasmuch as God doth often take occasion to reward or punish a people, not only by the means of good or ill princes, but even for the sake of them.

3. The cares of empire are great, and the burthen which lies upon the shoulders of princes very weighty; and on this account, therefore, they challenge, because they particularly want our prayers, that they may "have an understanding heart to discern between good and bad, and to go out and in before a great people." With what difficulties is their administration often clogged by the perverseness, folly, or wickedness of those they govern! How hard a thing do they find it to inform themselves truly of the state of affairs; where fraud and flattery surround and take such pains to mislead them!

4. That the providence of God doth, in a very particular manner, interpose towards swaying the will and affections, directing, or overruling the intentions of those who sit at the helm; for the king's heart is in the hand of God, as the rivers of waters; He turneth it whithersoever He listeth (Proverbs 21:1). He gives a bent to it this way or that, which it takes as certainly and easily as a stream is derived into the channels, which the hand of the workman prepares for it. These prayers are never so becomingly and forcibly addressed to God as in the great congregation. Blessings of a public nature and influence require as public and solemn acknowledgments; and the proper way of obtaining mercies, which affect many, is by pouring out the joint requests of many in behalf of them; for in the spiritual, as well as the carnal warfare, numbers are most likely to prevail.

III. I proceed to consider THE SPECIAL MOTIVE THERE PROPOSED, TO QUICKEN US INTO THE EXERCISE OF IT, that so we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. I shall briefly show in what respects the devotions recommended by the apostle contribute to this end; and how far, therefore, our own ease, advantage, and happiness are concerned in paying them. And —

1. They have a plain tendency this way, as they are a prevailing argument with God so to dispose and incline the minds of princes that they may study to promote the quiet, good, and prosperity of their kingdoms.

2. Such prayers facilitate our leading a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; inasmuch as they express, in the most significant manner, our love, and zeal, and reverence towards the persons of princes; and by such instances of duty invite them to make us suitable returns. They effectually prevent those jealousies, which men clothed with sovereign power are too apt to entertain of their inferiors, and promote that good understanding between them, which is the common interest, and should be the common aim of both, and wherein the security and happiness of all well-ordered states chiefly consist.

3. A quiet and peaceable life is the fruit of these public devotions, as we ourselves derive from thence a spirit of meekness, submission, and respect to our superiors, and are led into an habitual love and practice of those mild graces and virtues which we, at such times, solemnly exercise and pray God to inspire us with; and which, when generally practised, make crowns sit easy on the heads of princes, and render them and their subjects equally a blessing to each other.


1. The princes for whom the apostle pleads were infidels, without Christ, aliens from His commonwealth and strangers from the covenants of His promise (Ephesians 2:12); and such also they were, by the permission of God, to continue for three hundred years after the coming of our Saviour, that so His gospel might not owe its first establishment, in any degree, to the secular powers, but might spread and fix itself everywhere without their help and against their will, and manifest to all the world its Divine original by the miraculous manner in which it should be propagated. If then the tribute of supplications and thanksgivings was due to those heathen princes, is it not much more due to those who are Christians, who are ingrafted as principal members into that mystical body, of which Jesus Christ is the head?

2. That the Roman emperors, for whom the apostle here directs that prayers should be made, were usurpers and tyrants, who acquired dominion by invading the liberties of a free people, and were arbitrary and lawless in the exercise of it. Their will and pleasure was the sole standard of justice; fear was the foundation of their government, and their throne was upheld only by the legions which surrounded it. Even for such rulers the first Christians were exhorted to supplicate and give thanks. How much more reasonably and cheerfully do we, who are met here this day, now offer up that sacrifice for a Queen, who wears the crown of her forefathers, to which she is entitled by blood, and which was placed on her royal head, not only with the free consent but with the universal joy and acclamations of her subjects.

3. Those who governed the world at or near the time of St. Paul's writing this epistle, had no personal merits or virtues to recommend them to the prayers of the faithful. Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, under whom the Christian faith was disseminated, and for all whom, we may presume, the faithful equally made their supplications were not only bad princes but bad men, infamous for their lust, cruelty, and other vices; but they were in authority, and that gave them a right to be mentioned in the sacred offices of the Church. How different from their case is ours, whose eyes behold on the throne a Queen who deserves to sit there, as well by her virtue as by her birth.

4. The emperors of Rome, for whom the primitive Christians were obliged to pray and to give thanks, were their avowed enemies and persecutors, who did what they could to hinder the establishment of the Church of Christ, and to suppress those very assemblies wherein these devotions were offered up to God in their behalf. Whereas she, for whom we now adore and bless the good providence of God, is, by her office and by her inclination the defender and friend, the patroness and nursing-mother of His Church established among us.

(F. Atterbury, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

WEB: I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men:

The Duty of Prayer for All Who are in Eminent Place
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