Imitate God! If He willeth that all men should be saved, there is reason why one should pray for all, if He hath willed that all should be saved, be thou willing also; and if thou wishest it, pray for it, for wishes lead to prayers. Observe how from every quarter He urges this upon the soul, to pray for the Heathen, showing how great advantage springs from it; “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life”; and what is much more than this, that it is pleasing to God, and thus men become like Him, in that they will the same that He does. This is enough to shame a very brute. Fear not therefore to pray for the Gentiles, for God Himself wills it; but fear only to pray against any, for that He wills not. And if you pray for the Heathens, you ought of course to pray for Heretics also, for we are to pray for all men, and not to persecute. And this is good also for another reason, as we are partakers of the same nature, and God commands and accepts benevolence and affection towards one another.
But if the Lord Himself wills to give, you say, what need of my prayer? It is of great benefit both to them and to thyself. It draws them to love, and it inclines thee to humanity. It has the power of attracting others to the faith; (for many men have fallen away from God, from contentiousness towards one another;) and this is what he now calls the salvation of God, “who will have all men to be saved”; without this all other is nothing great, a mere nominal salvation, and only in words. “And to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The truth: what truth? Faith in Him. And indeed he had previously said, “Charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” But that no one may consider such as enemies, and on that account raise troubles against them; he says that “He willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth”; and having said this, he adds, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men.”
Saint John Chrysostom, Homily VII on 1 Timothy ii. 2–4.