Motivated To Pray?
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Motivating Christians to pray - sounds strange doesn't it? Of
all people who shouldn't need motivation to pray, Christians shouldn't. Yet, for
various reasons we need to be motivated to pray - more frequently and more
fervently. There are several passages which would help in encouraging us to pray
better, each of them with their own instruction. However, one passage stands out
to me - 1 Timothy 2:1-7: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and
all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all
godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our
Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the
truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus
Christ, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for
which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle -- I am speaking the truth in
Christ and not lying - a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."
Exhorted By Paul
Paul is writing to Timothy so that Timothy would properly conduct himself and accomplish his work at Ephesus (cf. 3:14-15). It is interesting to note that Paul begins by teaching people to pray (v. 1), and pray properly (v. 8). The importance of prayer is evidenced by the fact that Paul began with this instruction. If it was the beginning place for Paul, Timothy, and even the apostles (see Acts 6:4), surely the importance of prayer for us cannot be overstated.
Various Life Circumstances
Due to backgrounds, time and place, people are in various circumstances. Not only are people different from each other, even circumstances in one person's life can change, sometimes drastically. Both of these facts call for various types of prayers. Paul lists three specific types of prayers in this brief instruction to Timothy (v. 1). Supplications are specific requests to God for one's own needs. While we must guard against praying selfishly (cf. Jas. 4:3), it is right for us to pray for our own legitimate needs and desires. Intercessions are prayers to God for another's needs. The applications of interceding for others in prayer are countless, and many of them we mention frequently. This also helps us to look beyond ourselves and focus on others. Thanksgiving is, of course, giving thanks to God for the blessings received from Him. It is shameful to be ungrateful (Lk. 17:17-18; Col. 3:15). However, this includes thanksgiving "for all men" - brethren, family, friends, and foes alike. Any of these can be a challenge to faithful living from time to time, so we must be careful. There is so much in our own and others' lives for which to prayer - we need to be busy at it!
All Men Need Prayer
We have briefly discussed various circumstances which should motivate us to pray; now we move to various people who need our prayers. Paul first specifies two - kings and all who are in authority (v. 2). We can easily understand this considering the weight of responsibilities which come with such positions. It is also interesting to note that this was written during the time of cruel and morally reprobate ruler - Nero. If Paul instructed Christians to pray for such as he was, surely we can pray for our civil leaders today!
Paul preceded this, though, with "for all men." It is easy to pray for those who are good to us (cf. Mt. 5:46-47). Paul doesn't stop here. To pray for "all men" would include such people as that grouchy, grumpy relative, or obnoxious neighbor, or pushy boss. It would even include that weak Christian across the aisle, or that annoying brother who constantly badgers us. It would include that evil coworker who strives to "push our buttons" so we lose our self-control. You see, brothers and sisters, when we really stop and think about it, there are so many people for whom we should pray, beginning with ourselves. We have much praying to do, don't we?
Quiet, Peaceable Lives
Peace of mind and life - what a costly commodity in our day! Regular, fervent praying contributes to both. Our God whom we serve His children to persistently pray to Him (Lk. 11:5-13; 18:1-8). As we pray according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14-15), God will hear the outpouring of our hearts. This outpouring may be for our own sins, to resist temptation, for wisdom, or maybe just because we have no one else to whom we can turn! We can cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7).
We can have inner peace, but also outward tranquility. In His providence, God sees to the needs of His faithful children. This includes provision and protection. It doesn't mean that we will never have hard times or challenges to our faith, but that we have a God who is in complete control and who will preserve His faithful children (Jn. 10:28-29). So let the challenges of circumstances come as they may; faithful, fervent prayer avails much toward a peaceable and godly life (Jas. 5:16; 1 Tim. 2:2)!
Good And Acceptable To God
God knows what is best for us (Deut. 6:24). He knows what we need before we ask Him (Mt. 6:32). So why does He instruct us to pray? Because He knows that it is best for His children to regularly communicate their needs and desires to Him! We please God when we pray as we ought; what does this suggest if we pray otherwise? Our aim as Christians is to "fully please Him" (Col. 1:10; 2 Cor. 5:9). He knows the benefits we receive from prayer and is pleased when we take full advantage of the blessings He offers when we faithfully pray.
Christ, Our Mediator
Mediator - one who works in behalf of another. Christ is our Mediator to God. His mediatorial work was primarily accomplished in His crucifixion, but it extends beyond that. We have a sympathetic High Priest who will aid us (Heb. 2:10-18). He "ever lives to make intercession" for "those who come to God through Him" (Heb. 7:22). Just as Christ was heard in His praying (Heb. 5:7), so God promises to hear and answer all of His faithful children's prayers (1 Pet. 3:12). That Christ still stands as our Mediator serves as a final incentive (from our text) to pray frequently, fervently and faithfully.
Motivations to pray - how much more do we need? I
close with one final incentive: "Now to Him who is able to do
exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the
church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end.
Amen" (Eph. 3:20-21).
By Richard J. Boone
From Expository Files 6.3; March 1999