What reaches farther in its effects than anything else we can do?

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.

John Piper on 1 Timothy 2:1-4

What Makes Prayer So Important?

I see three reasons why prayer for other people is of first importance in keeping a clear conscience, in view of Jesus’ teaching that love is our greatest duty. First, prayer taps the power of God on behalf of others. We could try to help others, even presidents and congressmen and governors and mayors and aldermen and police chiefs, without praying for them. And, judged from a very limited perspective, we might do a little good that way. But the little good that we could do by our little power is not worthy to be compared with the great good God can do for people that he sets out to work for. So if we want the best for people, if we really love them, of first importance will be prayers on their behalf. The first thing you do for a person, if you love them, is to ask God to work for them. Of course, God’s answer to your prayer will almost always include your work of love, but it will also include much more than you alone could accomplish.

A second reason prayer is of first importance in keeping a clear conscience is that it is the easiest step of love. You don’t even have to get out of bed to pray for kings and all those in high positions. It requires no financial sacrifice and no great physical exertion. Of all the forms that love for others can take, prayer is the easiest. And isn’t it true that if you are unwilling to do something easy for the good of another, then it is very unlikely that you will be willing to do something hard for them? So it makes sense that Paul, in urging us to keep our consciences clear, would first of all urge us to do the easiest act of love, to pray for people.

satellite tvAnd the third reason prayer is of first importance in keeping our consciences clear is that it reaches farther in its effects than anything else we can do. Before the satellites were orbiting the earth we could broadcast a TV program live across the country but not around the world. But now it is easy to reach the other side of the world with a live broadcast by sending our signal out into space and bouncing it off a satellite.

That is the way it is with prayer. Without it we can influence things nearby, and if we wait long enough, our influence may spread around the world. But God’s influence is everywhere and immediate, so if we send our signals to him, we can reach around the world in an instant. If a broadcaster wants to get a message to the most people possible in the smallest amount of time, he will send it first away from the people to a satellite. If a Christian wants to do the most good possible to the most people in the short time he has, he will turn to God first, whose influence reaches, without interruption, to every molecule and every mind in the universe.

So, if we would not make shipwreck of faith, we must keep a good conscience. And therefore, I urge you first of all to fulfill the love command by praying for all men, because prayer taps the power of God on their behalf, prayer is the first and easiest step of love, and prayer reaches farther in its good effects than anything else we can do.

To read or listen to the rest of this Piper sermon on prayer, click here:

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