Summary: We are the intercessors for the world. Here are 8 things we should be praying for.
A teacher came into a classroom one morning and saw a group of boys huddled over in the corners on their knees. She was quite concerned. And she asked them, "What are you doing over there?" And they said, "Don’t worry. We’re just shooting craps." And she said, "Oh, what a relief. I thought you might have been praying." Isn’t it funny? We have removed prayer from the public schools. And it’s easy for us to decry the removal of prayer from public schools. But it makes me wonder what’s stopping us from praying. We may say, "Oh, it’s not allowed in the public school system." But, it’s allowed in our houses, isn’t it? It’s allowed in our churches. It’s allowed in lots of places. And it’s even allowed in public schools. I’ve heard that as long as there are final exams, there will be prayer in public schools.
There are many programs, lots of plans, that are laid out for the Church today. There are many ways to make the Church explode. Lots of ways for the Church to do this or that or accomplish this or that. But I found it interesting this week, as I thought about prayer, that back in Acts 6 when the Church was first forming and there were a lot of things going on and there were people who needed help, notice what the Apostles said. "Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. And we will turn this responsibility [that is, the feeding of a certain group of widows] over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." That’s a very instructive verse of Scripture, right there at the beginning of the Church as it first was getting off the ground.
These men, filled with the Holy Spirit and full of the wisdom of God knew that they could be distracted and gone out in all kinds of different directions, and those directions were important. It was important that those things be done. It’s important that the lights go on. It’s important that people are fed. But, at a foundational level, these elders said, "We want to make sure that we give appropriate and prioritized attention to two things: prayer and the ministry of the Word."
Now Paul, here in this passage he is writing and giving instructions for the activity of the church that this young man, Timothy, was the pastor of. And in doing so, he wasn’t exclusive, but there is a certain priority listed here. In verse 1 of chapter 2, he says, "I urge you first of all [and this isn’t just the first thing I’m going to talk to you about, but in terms of priority] the first thing that I want you to remember is that you should be praying."
I was in a church one time where the Pastor said, "I’m going to tell you the key to the Christian life." And people were all aquiver waiting for this wonderful thing. And he said, "Prayer." The air went out of that crowd like the air out of a balloon. Prayer? Yes, prayer. We have become so bored with prayer. Perhaps, it seems ineffective. Or perhaps it seems like doing nothing, compared with doing something. "Oh, let’s not just pray about it. Let’s do something about it." When are we going to learn that praying is doing something