Summary: # 4 in series on 1 Timothy. Deals with the priority of prayer in worship.
“Living For Christ In A Confused and Confusing World”
A Study of Paul’s Letters to Timothy
“The Priority of Prayer In Worship!”
It seems to me that we live in a society that is growing more and more anti-Christian by the day. We live in a society which declares right wrong and wrong right. We live in a nation where most of the people around us live as if God were dead or at least irrelevant? We find ourselves in a situation not a little unlike Daniel’s. How do we live for God in a confused and confusing world? I wish I had all the answers as to how we are to live every area of our lives. Paul, in his advice to young Timothy deals with one area where we can all impact the people that live in our world. It is an area of Christian activity that been demonstrated to have the power to show Christ to a lost world and to change society. I am talking about the area of prayer.
We noted in the first lesson that the overall aim of the first letter to Timothy was to address six main topics. He began in chapter one with doctrine urging Timothy to remain in Ephesus and counter the false teaching by remaining loyal to that the faith as presented by the Apostles. Just as he had previously urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to combat error he now “exhorts” him to give a priority to public worship.
The Place Of Prayer (v. 1a)
“Therefore I exhort first of all”- “first of all” - means first in order, rank and importance. Paul tells us that the first priority in the church is that of prayer.
Paul tells us that we are to pray "first of all". That is, prayer is to be the top priority of the church. It is not just to be the filler, thrown in between songs, or as something to take up a few minutes of time. No! Prayer is the life’s breath of the church! Billy Graham said, "The three secrets to successful ministry are: prayer, prayer and more prayer." If we will be all that God wants us to be, then we will be a people who places a great emphasis on prayer! Let us determine that here at First Baptist, we will pray "first of all".
As Paul continues his call to prayer, he
uses four words to describe the total scope of prayer. All four are related, but each has a different shade of meaning and we can learn something from each of them. Together they reveal the nature of prayer and the proper attitude of prayer. Verse one says, “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.”
1. Supplications – making requests, sharing our needs with God (Phil 4:6) This refers to prayers focused on special needs. The idea is that of bringing a deep and intense burden before the Lord. When we have needs in our own lives, and when we see needs in the lives of others, we are to be moved by these needs and we are to bring them to the throne of grace, Heb. 4:16.
2. Prayers (Proseuche)– this is the act of worship that should accompany prayer. This word calls to mind those times we set aside to come into the Lord’s presence to worship Him and just to spend time at His feet. Every believer must have that time when we go before the Lord, without distraction, without hurry and we just spend time loving Him. Public prayer is no substitute for personal, private worship!
3. Intercessions (Enteuxis)– this is the taking of the needs of others before the Lord. This refers to bold praying on behalf of others. Jesus is our intercessor, 1 Tim. 2:5. He stands in the gap between us and the Father and boldly prays for us, Heb. 7:25. We are to carry out the same ministry on behalf of others. The main idea in these verses is that of making intercession for those who do not know the Lord. We are to stand in the gap for them, praying for God to convict them and save them by His grace!
4. Thanksgiving – a spirit of gratitude to God. No prayer is complete until we spend some of that time thanking God. We are to thank Him for that which He has already done, such as salvation, blessings, answered prayers, etc. We should thank Him for the fact that He is hearing us as we pray. We should thank Him for those things that He is yet to do! You see, as we pray, we are to pray in faith, believing that the things we are asking God to do are already done, even though we can’t see them at the present time. That is the very essence of faith, Heb. 11:1.