Hello and welcome to Friday’s podcast. Our reading today is 1 Timothy 2: 1-7. We are going to focus on verses 1 and 4. Here’s verse 1:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people
I write this podcast the morning after our prayer day here at STC – something of a tradition now at this church to mark the start of the season of Lent. It was just an amazing day which began at 7am and carried until 4pm with all sorts of prayers being offered for the life of this church. It all culminated in the evening with a beautiful and powerful Ashing and communion service. The sense of God’s presence in this place on that day was truly remarkable. Many people were profoundly moved and impacted as God’s Spirit was poured on upon them.
Without doubt, prayer is the most important activity of our lives as believers. It is the way we develop our relationship with our Father in heaven. It is what Jesus modelled during his earthly ministry and he taught us to do the same. I’ve heard it said that one of the most important things a church leader can do is to teach their people how to pray. I’m just very aware today of how thankful we should be here as a church for our leaders – Mick and Tricia – and how they have encouraged and inspired the church to constantly seek more of God in prayer.
In today’s passage, Paul reminds Timothy and the believers in Ephesus that the call is to pray.
Prayer matters! So how do we pray? Well, Paul uses lots of different words to describe different aspects of prayer. There’s petition – bringing our needs to God. Intercession – bringing to God the needs of others. If we’re honest, this forms the bulk of our prayer life. I don’t know about you but sometimes it can feel like one way traffic in that I come to God with a list and it’s a process of off loading that on to Him. Now this isn’t to decry praying in that way – far from it. As we’ll see later praying for others’ needs matters! But in many ways there’s so much we are yet to discover of God through prayer. Prayer can take many different forms. I’m actually reading a really helpful book by Pete Greig – founder of the 24/7 prayer movement – called ‘How to pray’. For a simpleton like me it’s really opened my eyes to different ways in which we can engage with the Lord through times of stillness and silence, of adoration, of confession and reconciliation and of surrender. It’s a really great read.
Paul urges the believers in Ephesus to offer up all kinds of prayer for all kinds of people. We’ve spoken already about the importance of having a personal life. But it’s also clear that our prayers should very much have an outward dynamic also. Paul in verse two encourages prayer for ‘kings and all those in authority’. A great reminder here to pray for our leaders – both in and out of the church. I find this a challenge at times. We don’t always agree or get along with those in authority over us but the call is clear – we need to pray for them. And I do wonder what would happen if we each started doing that every day? How it might impact individuals? The way they lead? The culture within an organisation?
If that’s the ‘what’ and ‘who’ then finally verse 4 shows us ‘why’ prayer matters. Paul writes, ‘who (the who being God here) wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’.
Paul reminds the believers here again that Gospel brings with it a free and universal gift to every single human being to come to know God’s love for them. God desires that all people come to the knowledge of the truth that is found in him. To come to know in both their head and their heart that they are loved because Jesus died for them. That they need a saviour and that through Jesus God has rescued them and given them the gift of eternal life. We’re running an Alpha course here at STC at the moment and this week we’ve already had the privilege of witnessing and hearing about people who’ve received that. This should be the focus of our prayers. And again, I’m really challenged here because so often I find that the focus on my prayers are on me, my life, my needs, my wants and my desires.
God wants to remind us here that we are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. To seek to not only pray for ourselves but to pray for all people – especially for those who don’t yet know him. And his promise to us as we do so is this… the rest of these things, the things he knows we need, will be given to us.
Prayer matters because prayer changes things. God desires that we become a people who learn more and more what it is to pray, and we pray … knowing that God desires that all people – those we know and love – discover for themselves the wonders and riches of his love. And so today, let’s receive that call to evangelistic prayer afresh from God today. Practically, to stick a reminder in our phone; to whack a note with a name on the fridge or near the kettle as a prompt. Who does God want us to pray for this day?
God thank you for the wonderful gift of prayer. Lord, teach us how to pray. We want to grow in this area of our lives. Lord, we ask this day that those whom you have laid on our hearts, those who don’t yet know you – that you would work miracles. That we would see in our lifetimes signs and wonders as the people we pray for come to faith and experience you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.