Summary: How, and who to pray for.
28/1/01 10.45 a.m. 1 Timothy 2:1-8
2 1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle - I am telling the truth, I am not lying - and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. 8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
There are occasions when Joshua and myself will spend time together, for example we may go to the cinema or a museum with one another. During such excursions he has said to me that, with all due respect to his mum he liked spending time with me. It is important to spend time with those we love to show that they really are precious to us. It isn’t enough to just say someone is important yet not make spending time with them a priority.
At the start of 1 Timothy 2 Paul reminds us that prayer should be a priority in the Christian’s life.
2 1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.
’First of all’ means that prayer is to be the first priority for the Christian. We are not to treat God like a Doctor or a lawyer, only going to him if we are ill or in trouble.
We could ask in what ways we can pray. We saw some of these two weeks ago when Sean preached on the Lord’s prayer. Here, Paul mentions four ’prayer words’, some of which overlap in their meanings. All of these involve looking to a superior power who has met, and will meet, the needs of ourselves and others.
The word translated ’request’ refers to a need of someone which can be met by God. This reminds us that as our heavenly father God loves us and wants to give us good things, just as a parent likes to give their child gifts. Something we read of in Luke 11 last week.
The word translated ’prayers’ is a general word that refers to all types of prayers, both public and personal. The importance of prayer should result in us making every effort to pray privately and to come together with other Christians to pray. This includes our regular Sunday worship, Tuesday morning prayers at Graham and Dorothy Howe’s home, midweek meetings and as we unite on ’Prayer Clock’ days.
The word translated ’intercession’ has been paraphrased as, ’throwing yourself in with someone’. This shows how we can pray on someone else’s behalf. The word also alludes to a conversation, reminding us that we can chat to God during the day. For example, we may hear the siren of an ambulance or fire engine and send up an arrow prayer for the emergency services and for those they are going to help.
Intercession should be bold, knowing that God is able and willing to answer his children’s prayers. Yet we should also be open to the possibility that we could be able to answer our own prayers, or the prayers of another. For example, a church may be praying about the need for a Church Administrator, yet it could be that there is someone within that congregation who could fill that post.
Similarly, it is of no use if we pray for the growth of this church and for the worship to be lively if we ignore outreach events and come infrequently!
A Canadian Vicar skipped services one Sunday to go bear hunting in the mountains. As he turned the corner along the path, he and a bear collided. The vicar stumbled backwards, slipped off the trail, and began tumbling down the mountain with the bear in hot pursuit. Finally the vicar crashed into a boulder, sending his rifle flying in one direction and breaking both his legs.
As the bear closed in, the vicar cried out in desperation, "Lord, I’m sorry for what I have done. Please forgive me and save me! Lord, please make that bear a Christian."
Suddenly the bear skidded to a halt at the pastor’s feet, fell to its knees, clasped its paws together and said, "For what I am about to receive, may the Lord make me truly grateful."