PRAYING LIKE PAUL (Timothy 4)
(READ 1 Timothy 2:1-8) It would have been wonderful to hear Paul teach and preach. It would have been even more special to hear him pray. How did he pray? What did he pray for? In 1 Timothy 2:1-8 Paul explains prayer to Timothy. It gives us insight into Paul’s prayer life and also helps know how we should pray.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (2:1) Paul begins by listing WHAT they should pray. “Petitions” are personal prayers for our own needs. “Prayers” refer to reverent communication with God, connecting with Him from our heart to His, sharing our feelings and desires with Him. “Intercession” focuses on praying for the needs of others. “Thanksgiving” reminds us to always have an attitude of gratitude when we pray. Prayer is talking with God, connecting to Him in a deep level. It is sharing our needs, joys, questions and problems with Him.
Prayer is for us, but it is also for others. Paul tells Timothy WHO to pray for: all people, but especially for those in authority (1:2). Paul then gives three reasons WHY we should pray for those in authority (2:2-4). 1) For everyone’s sake, to live “peaceful and quiet lives” (2:2). 2) For believer’s sake, to live “in all godliness and holiness” (2:2). 3) For God’s sake, because praying for authorities to rule in peace “is good and pleases God our Savior” (2:3). God wants everyone to know and follow Him (2:4), and it is harder to spread the gospel in times of turmoil and stress. The whole reason God created mankind is to have fellowship with Him. That’s also why He came to die for us when sin separated us from Him. He wants us with Him because He loves us.
WHO are we to pray to then? Paul tells Timothy we pray to God though our mediator, Jesus, the go-between. Jesus is God Himself who became man so He could ransom us by paying the price for our sins and reconcile us to God (2:5-6). Paul thanks God for the privilege of letting others know about these wonderful blessings from God (2:7). Now that privilege is ours. Are you grateful for the honor you have of sharing God’s truth with others? Do you thank Him for that blessing?
Finally, Paul talks about HOW to pray, the mechanics of prayer. “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing” (2:8). “Prayer” is in the present tense, meaning we are to pray any time and all the time. “Men” are to initiate and take the lead, in their families, church and nation. Prayer can be done “everywhere,” not just in church.
The place doesn’t matter, but the heart attitude does. It must be done in all sincerity: “lifting up holy hands.” There are many positions for prayer used in the Bible: lifting up hands, lying on face, kneeling, sitting and standing. No one is better than the other. What matters is the heart, for it must be “holy.” Sin separates us from God, it blocks our prayers. How can we closely connect with God when we have rebelled against Him by sin? Sin breaks human relationships in families, marriage and among friends. It does the same with our relationship with God.
Paul especially warns against the sins of anger and disputing (2:8). He is probably referring to the conflicts going on in the Ephesus house churches and why their prayers aren’t being heard. Timothy must resolve these conflicts and provide godly leadership for the church so their prayers won’t be hindered.
This gives us a glimpse into Paul’s prayers and how he taught others to pray. His life was filled with prayer. The early church was characterized by prayer. They spent much time in prayer (Acts 2:42). Healthy Christians and churches must do the same today.
James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Do you believe prayer is important and that it changes things? How much time do you spend in prayer each day? Do you make sure there is no sin in your life when you pray. Do you struggle with anger? Are you not getting along with someone? Confess your sins and turn from them now.