Studies from Timothy:- 8
VIII. PRAYER IN THE CHURCH. 1TIMOTHY 2: 1 – 8
By Nelson Thomas Mumbai
Introduction: - Paul reminds his charge to Timothy, begins with public prayers in the assembly, particularly for the salvation of souls. Notice 5 key things on prayer in this passage.
1. Importance of prayers. “first of all” v. 1
It seems Ephesians slowly slipped away from specific time of prayers for the unreached, may be influenced by the false teachers. Judaizers would have said, “Salvation is only for Jews, then why pray for the gentiles?” Gnostics could say, “Salvation is only for the elite intelligent ones, so no meaning in praying for all”. Whatever may be the reason, they were neglecting such evangelistic prayers.
A local church needs to give the most prominent place for prayer. First century church used to gather for prayer often. Cf. Act 2:42; 4:21, 24; 6:4; 12:5 etc.
Ob. “therefore” – wherefore? What is the reason why church should give priority for prayer? The expression ‘therefore’ refers to the disciplined believers of the Ephesian assembly mentioned in 1:19, 20. Solution to difficult and backsliding people in the local church is much prayer.
2. Various elements in prayer. V.1b.
a. Supplications. ‘Requests’. The original word refers to our need or want. Prayer is an expression of our needs. In other word, in true prayer we see our deepest need. Without such a realization prayer becomes monotonous and ineffective. God is more than happy to hear our needs as we make it known to Him. “I need thee every hour…”
b. Prayers. The first word in the original used while addressing God or man in presenting our needs, but the word used here is used only to God. It is a sacred word referring to all kinds of reverent approaches to God. Notice, some needs even man can meet, but some, God alone can fulfill. In true prayer we do not come to God thinking ‘if God fails some body else would do it for us’. In true prayer we come exclusively to Him acknowledging that He alone can meet our needs.
c. Intercessions. ‘Petitions’. This word speaks of ‘holding and intimate conversation with a person’ or ‘entering into king’s presence and submitting a petition to him.’ True prayer is not just making our personal needs known to God but make intercessions for others. The Lord Jesus Christ is still interceding for us. Saints like Paul used to plead for God’s people and requested others to pray for them. God begins to bless us as we pray for others. Cf. Heb. 7:25; Eph 6:18, 19; Job 42:10.
d. Thanksgiving. ‘Praising God’; ‘Rehearsing God’s grace and kindnesses. This is another essential element in prayer. Pouring our heart in gratitude to God, acknowledging His goodness. Cf. Phil 4:6 – prayer along with thanksgiving brings peace to our heart. Cf. 1Thess. 5:18; Roma 1: 8; Eph 5: 20; Phil 1:3; 4:6.
So, true prayer involves all these 4 aspects. There is a consciousness of our need, reverence and worship, pleading for others and praising God with a grateful heart.
3. The points for prayer. V. 1, 2
As noticed already, ‘therefore’ in the beginning refers to one main point in prayer – the backslidden believers. That should be one of the objectives, that God may be gracious to such fallen ones. But writer gives two other matters also.
a. “All men” – v. 1c. All humanity. No distinction – not just the elect or few others.
b. “Kings and all in authority”. V. 2 Remember, Paul does not want them to avoid even those in authority who are actually persecuting Christians. In Romans 13:1 He writes, we must be subject to every authority for they have been appointed by God. Peter also wrote similar idea. Cf. 1Peter 2: 13 – 17.
4. The purpose in prayer. V. 2, 3.
Remember, the context is public evangelistic prayer – prayer for the fallen ones and the unbelievers. Even the prayer for the rulers also is with a view of their conversion. In this background Paul proposes few purposes in this particular passage.
a. For our own good. V. 2b “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” Definitely God will work in others lives as we plead for them, but Paul wants us to note that primarily it helps us. Here, the immediate context refers to our prayers for those in authority.
- “Quite” – ‘absence of external disturbances’
- “Peaceable” – ‘absence of internal disturbances’
- “Godliness” – ‘describes the reverence for God reflected in our character and conduct’
- “Reverence” – ‘gravity’ / ‘dignity’ – ‘Dignity of life springing from moral earnestness governing inward thoughts and outward act’.
Such should be our life in normal circumstances and our prayers make it possible.
b. For the pleasure of God. V. 3 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savoir”. It is good – something excellent, the best and fitting thing to be done. Also it is pleasing to God. Ob. ‘In the sight of God’ – God takes a very careful note of our prayers. He is so pleased as we pray for unbelievers.
c. For the fulfillment of God’s own will. V. 4. We should never consider prayer as a means to accomplish our selfish goals, even forcefully grabbing from the hands of God. There are many Christians think in such a way. But in truth, we come to God in prayer, not to impose our will but to yield ourselves to God’s will. We humbly come before Him and say ‘your will be done’. Cf. Matt. 6:10.
What’s God’s will for mankind? ‘All must be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.’ So the main emphasis in this passage is prayers for the salvation of souls. We will consider this aspect in our next study.
Is prayer and important program for us and our church? Are we aware of the needs and seriously plead for others, or just repeating few sentences as a routine? Do we pray for those who rule over us? Are we really burdened about the salvation of others around us? Is God finds our prayers as good and pleasing in His sight?
Next:- IX. PRAYER FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS
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