There's lots to say about the thoughts in this verse and in the verses to follow. I'd just like to concentrate on one word: "ALL." Notice Paul said, "...first of ALL..." Amongst everything he could say he focused on the subject of prayer and thanksgiving to be made for everyone, men and women, youth, and children. Everybody! To Paul, humanity is the reason why Jesus came to this world. He came to people and its people that Paul focuses on. Note what else Paul says:
Verse 2 - Prayers were to be "for kings and ALL who are in authority..." Paul started with those that God had placed in positions of leadership (see Romans 13:1). All leaders need our prayers. At the time I'm writing this I know our country is wondering what's going to happen with the elections in November. Whoever wins, they NEED to be prayed for! That's probably why America is in the mess that she's in. People spend far too much time criticizing our leaders and precious little time praying for them.
Note, again in Verse 2 - "...that we may lead a life in ALL godliness and honesty..." Our praying for our leaders has the practical side of helping us to live godly lives. This was the same thought in God's encouragement to the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon. Note Jeremiah 29:7 that God wanted people to pray "to the Lord for it" referring to the city where they were living. Why? Because when the city had peace, so would God's people.
Look at Verse 4 where Paul gives one of the greatest statements of God's desire for the salvation of mankind, "who [God] would have ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Ever pray for "everyone to be saved?" I remember, as a kid, I prayed like that! I didn't want anyone to be excluded from salvation. Of course, I realize that many will turn away from God. But not because God keeps them from salvation. (More about this in a future study).
Finally, note Verse 6 where Paul speaks of the complete work of Christ "who gave Himself a ransom for ALL..." Jesus paid the price for everyone's salvation. That backs up God's desire for all to be saved. They could be saved because Jesus died for all!
Believer, God calls us to do something "...above ALL..." He wants us to pray for people. Yes, pray for everyone if you like. But think about those in your life - pray for them "to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."