Summary: Prayer is essential because of what we are to prayer for.

First of All Pray—Part 2

1 Timothy 2:3-8

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

Gallagher, the wacky comedian with Sledg-o-matic that he uses to squish all sorts of fruits and vegetables on stage, likes to point out that we humans are a strange lot. He ought to know! Consider his list of human oddities:

Why is it called a hamburger when it’s made out of beef? Why do you put suits in garment bags and put garments in suitcases? Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle? Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat foot?

Why do they lock gas station bathrooms—are they afraid someone is going to sneak in there and clean them?

You tell a man there is 400 million stars and he’ll believe you, but tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it? Why?

If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes? Why are there five syllables in the word monosyllabic? When two airplanes almost collide, why do they call it a near miss—it sound like a near hit to me?

Why do banks charge you a non-sufficient funds fee on money they know you don’t have? Why do you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? Why are they called apartments when they’re stuck together? Why are they called buildings when they are already finished? Shouldn’t we call them builts? If the black box flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn’t the whole plan made out of the stuff?

Why? That is probably the most asked and least answered question in the English language!

I would add one more oddity to Gallagher’s list. Perhaps the strangest of all is why we do not pray more fervently than we do? It is not just us. It is something about human nature. Consider Jesus’ disciples. After three years at Jesus’ side, why did his disciples find it difficult to watch and pray with Him? Why is too often prayer our last resort and not our first impulse?

This is the issue that I am speaking to in our Sunday Evening School of Prayer. How can we be a more praying church? How can we build on the vital prayer life that IS there in the lives of many and make it even stronger and greater? How can we discover more of what God has in store for us—if we ask?

Remember these words:

(Eph 3:20-21) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, {21} to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

He is able! Whatever limitation exists is our side not his? As Jesus told the woman at the well, “If you only knew the gift of God . . . .”

(James 4:1-3) What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? {2} You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. {3} When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

How much of our personal and corporate needs exist because we do not ask? Our God has declared himself willing and able to respond to our requests. We have not because we ask not!

Because the Apostle Paul knew and believed in the power of prayer, his charge to Timothy and the church at Ephesus was to pray. We considered the first two verses of our text in our previous study. Let’s review for a moment. 1 Timothy is a book about the church that the Lord wants to build. Listen to Paul’s purpose statement for this letter: (1 Tim 3:14-15 NIV) “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, {15} if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

To a church challenged by outside and inside pressures, he could have called for many things. But he begins, “I urge, then, first of all, . . . “ What follows is a call to prayer, not as a last resort, but as a first impulse.

We previously noted the four terms for prayer found here: requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. Together they describe the action of prayer and the attitude of prayer. Paul tells us who to pray for: for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority. Real fervent praying should be done for our friends and family, our church, our neighbors, our town. The list could go. But it also ought to include those we might not otherwise remember: the poor, the lost, even enemies, Jesus taught us. Paul specifically mentions those in authority. In his context, it was not normally democratically elected representatives, but kings and emperors. Surely praying for our leaders ought to come easier. Certainly it is just as necessary.

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