This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. – 1 Timothy 2:3-6a NIV
The previous two verses have included instruction to pray for all people, including our political leaders. Why pray for all people? Because God wants all of them to be saved. And because Christ gave himself as a ransom for all of them.
This passage is understood in several different way. On one side are those who would say that God always gets what he desires, and so all people will be saved. But if that were the case, why are there so many passages talking about judgement for unbelievers? At the other extreme are those who say that the expression ‘all people’ doesn’t really mean all people, but only representatives from all kinds of people. This view shares in common with the first one that all those God wants to see saved will be saved. It differs from the first view in saying that there are some that God does not want to see saved. But the language in this passage is clear; God’s desire is for all people to be saved, not some people.
So if Christ’s atonement was for all and God wants all to be saved, then why are some not saved? Because only those who repent and believe will be saved (Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31). While God’s grace reaches to all people (Titus 2:11), enabling us to believe, he does not force belief on any of us. While he holds out eternal life to all, he executes judgement on those who reject it.
Pray for all people, especially for the unbelievers among your family and friends. Pray that they might respond to God’s gracious working in their lives, repent, believe, and be saved.