Summary: Paul tells us that sharing our faith begins with prayer, it begins with a right attitude, and it begins with living and speaking the truth.
DOES ALL REALLY MEAN ALL?
INTRODUCTION… Lieghton Ford, Good News is for Sharing, 1977, David C. Cook Publishing Co., p. 67
I was speaking at an open-air crusade in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Billy Graham was to speak the next night and had arrived a day early. He came incognito and sat on the grass at the rear of the crowd. Because he was wearing a hat and dark glasses, no one recognized him.
Directly in front of him sat an elderly gentleman who seemed to be listening intently to my presentation. When I invited people to come forward as an open sign of commitment, Billy decided to do a little personal evangelism. He tapped the man on the shoulder and asked, "Would you like to accept Christ? I’ll be glad to walk down with you if you want to." The old man looked him up and down, thought it over for a moment, and then said, "Naw, I think I’ll just wait till the big gun comes tomorrow night." Billy and I have had several good chuckles over that incident. Unfortunately, it underlines how, in the minds of many people, evangelism is the task of the "Big Guns," not the "little shots."
Yet, all of us as Christians need to be concerned with personal evangelism. Research (www.barna.org) tells us that on average only 35% of Christian adults feel it is their personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with others. That number varies in different parts of the country… the South peaking at 41% and the Northeast being the lowest at 26%. We each have a responsibility to share our faith with all those we come across in our lives.
READ 1 TIMOTHY 2:1-7
The Apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, is giving the church instructions for proper worship. He is giving advice to Timothy to help him in his ministry. At the beginning of chapter 2, though, I see a few nuggets that speak to evangelism and sharing our faith before the instructions on worship. The verse that I think brings these thoughts into focus for me is verse 4. Verse 4 shows us that Paul is thinking outside of himself and towards those around him. Paul tells us that sharing our faith begins with prayer, it begins with a right attitude, and it begins with living and speaking the truth.
I. EVANGELISM BEGINS WITH PRAYER (VERSES 1-3)
Paul begins this section of Scripture by speaking about intercessory prayer. Prayer is the absolute best thing you can ever do for anyone. Paul considers it of extreme importance... he mentions this in verse 1... “first of all.” Now I realize that intercessory prayer sounds complicated, but intercessory prayer simply means that you are praying for other people instead of for yourself. Paul tells us that we are to pray for everyone. Does this mean I just pray, “God help the world Amen” and I have done what Paul has asked? I am not so sure that is what Paul meant. I think that Paul means on a regular basis we are to be people who pray for others we know. We are to pray for everyone we know on a regular basis... God wants to hear their name. There should be no one left out of your prayers.
We find intercessory prayer all throughout Scripture. In Genesis 18, Abraham prayed for the people of Sodom in an effort that all of them should not be lost. In the end, Lot and his family were saved, but all others perished. In Exodus 32, we find Moses praying for the people of Israel that God would deal with the nation of Israel mercifully. In Isaiah, 36-39, we find the prophet Isaiah praying with King Hezekiah to save the nation from the attack of the Assyrians… and the armies were defeated. In Acts 12, the people of God prayed, Peter’s chains fell off, and an Angel of the Lord led him out of prison. I hope that you believe that the Lord hears our prayers and He delights in us praying for others and lifting them up to Him in prayer.
Paul, in verse 1, is telling us that praying for others is supremely important. In verse 2, Paul adds another dimension to our prayer lives as Christians. Paul instructs us to pray for the “kings and all those in authority.” For us, this means we bathe the President and his Cabinet in our prayers. It means we pray for the Senators and Representatives of Pennsylvania. It means we pray for the mayor and leaders of our community. We are to pray for them. Why? What should we pray for? Paul continues in verses 2 and 3 and shares that these prayers will produce peace and quietness in the land and this pleases God! It pleases God that we pray for our leaders that they would be men of integrity and live in goodness and holiness. The desired result of our prayers is all people living together in holiness and peace. That is certainly something to pray for!