Summary: Our prayers are to be targeted at others, our prayers are to be targeted toward our leaders, the price has already been paid, but are our hands cleansed enough to raise toward God in prayer?
Sermon Title: Is Your Prayer Hitting the Bull’s-Eye?
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1-8
Wesleyan Community Church
Sunday Morning – May 5, 2002
If there is an item that many of us may struggle with, I think we all have some difficulty being told how to do something that we are pretty sure that we know how to do. Call it what you will, be it residual carnality or stubborn pride that has yet to be cleansed out of our spiritual being, we suffer from it to a certain degree. I know that God isn’t though with me yet, and I know that there will be several rough edges that will need to be knocked off in the future. Painful – Yes, but we need to remember if we become willing clay in the hands of the Master, the One who knows the ultimate best that we can become, we will truly be a new creation in Christ.
Let us take a close look at this section of Scripture that we are dealing with this morning, Paul is instructing Timothy on the subject of prayer. Now, that would probably not be to unusual, but Timothy is a Pastor. Don’t all pastor’s know about prayer? I guess I should rephrase, that, shouldn’t all pastors know about prayer. I would hope that that is a requirement of all you choose to answer God’s call, but sadly it is not true. To many forget or have discounted the power of prayer, and worse yet, some have perverted the nature of prayer, the reason of prayer, the target of prayer, and find themselves believing that they can manipulate the God who has the power to answer the requests that are laid at His feet.
Even that is not the case here, Timothy as a student of Paul knows the power of prayer, but Paul wants to reinforce the importance in the ministry of this spiritual son of his. Paul is telling Timothy, I know the importance that you place on prayer, but it is still even more important and powerful than you think. Let us open our hearts and minds for the message that the Lord has for us in His Word this morning.
Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8
1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 8I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
One of the greatest lessons that we can ever learn is that the honor that we have to bring requests before the Lord was not given to us in order that we may focus on us. We must first of all remember that: The Target of Prayer is Others! Let me begin by sharing this story about the target of prayer:
Praying for People
A hospital chaplain visited a delightful old lady in the hospital. As he approached her bed he noticed that with the index finger of one hand she was touching, one by one, the fingers of the other, with her eyes closed. When the chaplain spoke to her she opened her eyes and said, "Ah, minister, I was just saying my prayers--- the prayers my grandmother taught me many years ago."
The chaplain looked puzzled, so she went on to explain, "I hold my hand like this, my thumb towards me. That reminds me to pray for those nearest to me. Then, there is my pointing finger, so I pray for those who point the way to others---teacher, leaders, parents. The next finger is the biggest so I pray for those in high places. After that comes the weakest finger---look it won’t stand up by itself, so I pray for the sick and the lonely and the afraid. And this little one---well, last of all I pray for myself."
Another interesting aspect that this illustration touches on is that: The Target of Prayer ought to include Our Leadership! Let me step on some toes here for a moment, the next time we choose to complain about the way the government is run, why not spend the time in prayer instead. What would you expect to be the most efficient mode of making a change in the government, sitting around in a group complaining about the lousy job someone is doing, or praying that the Holy Spirit make such an impression on them that the process of conviction not only changes the course of their actions but leads to the salvation of their souls as well.