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Prayer is Our Social Responsibility – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

27/02/2015

Prayer is Our Social Responsibility

Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-3.
Chapter two is an interesting chapter – Paul draws conclusions from his previous comments. Firstly he will challenge the church to pray for all men, and describes their attitude of prayer. He begins with the Christian’s social responsibility in prayer…  

1. The Structure of Prayer!
Paul has been teaching about grace and has been praising God in his doxology, and has been charging Timothy to war a good warfare – all of these things will be drawn together now in an exhortation. In doing so he gives us a helpful structure for our own prayers:-

  1. Supplication. Petitions for specific needs! Humble requests which one makes in the light of some particular situation for which God alone can furnish help. Like when leaders are faced with a crisis.
  2. Prayer. Perhaps just bringing those needs before the Lord, or perhaps used here to indicate needs which are always with us, in contrast to the ’emergency’ nature of supplications. This is prayer for every day things.
  3. Intercession. Speaking boldly of those needs before the Lord. ‘Pleading in the interests of others’ – Hendriksen. Just as Jesus does for us! Hebrews 7:25
  4. Thanksgiving. Expressing gratitude for blessings received, thus completing the cycle begun when supplication was first made. So when a national leader brings a country through a war, or a time of crisis, or a recession, and we have prayed for that very thing, it is our responsibility to thank God for that answered prayer.

This is a PRIORITY! ‘First of all’ is προτων. In this context, it probably indicates the importance of putting prayer for others (and our governing authorities) near the very top of our prayer list!
This prayer must be MADE. We design it, we construct it, we express it – and we do it to a particular blueprint, for the format of our prayers are given to us by Jesus Himself. It is all kinds of prayer – for all kinds of people!

2. The Inclusivity of Prayer!
Now let’s look at who we are to pray for…

  1. For all men! We’ll look at this phrase again in verse 4. It is παντοων άνθρωπων. And it means ‘all manner of men’. We’ll see that in our next study.
  2. For rulers! The traditional prayers of the Jewish synagogue excluded prayer for rulers – especially of they were Gentiles. Yet we are to pray for them, for even Nero is not beyond the reach of God. After all, if God could save Paul, the worst of sinners…
  3. For governments. I think that this is of major importance. Our government is just as corrupt as the government was in Paul’s day. It is intent on lowering the moral standards of our nation, and it is aided and abetted by a compliant, liberal media, who know no boundaries when it comes to seeking opportunity to blaspheme and offend. We MUST pray!

We shall see more of this, when Paul gives the theological explanation for it in the next few verses, and in our next study.

3. The Petitions of Prayer!
Now, what do we think should be the objective of our prayers? What should we pray for when we pray for everyone, including society and rulers and governments:-

  1. For the peace of our society.
    1. The Christian is a part of this society! The Bible does not envisage believers living in a monastery, or cloistered in some convent or ecclesiastical building. We live and work and witness in this world, and we are to bring a godly influence to it, to be salt and light as Jesus taught us. He includes us as part of society, ‘that WE may live…’ Not that ‘They’ may live!
    2. We want peace! We want to live lives that are quiet and peaceable, living under the legitimate state authorities, and we want to be at peace with all men. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, – with lives that are lived in all ‘godliness and reverence’ in piety and in gravity, especially in our relationship with God. Titus 2:11-12 But what does praying have to do with the peace of society? Much indeed, for ultimately our rulers have a greater ruler, whether they know it or not! God is ultimately in control of the affairs of men. Daniel 2:20-21, Romans 13:1-2.
  2. For the soul of our society.
    1. That the Gospel may be preached! Our ultimate aim in praying for society is that the conditions will prevail which will facilitate the spread of the Gospel throughout the nation. We want to see our nation restored to God, we want to see our friends and our neighbours and our fellow countrymen won for the Lord!
      That our Testimony may be unblemished! It is better to pray for our rulers and our society, – no matter how wrong we may think it to be, than to lob bricks at the forces of law and order, or to take part in protests and disturbances.
    2. That the common good may prevail! It is the role of the state to keep the peace, to protect the citizens, to punish evil-doers, to promote the general good and welfare of the nation. It is the role of the church to pray for the state, for good government is a gift of God’s Common Grace to all men.
  3. For the Glory of God. For this is an ACCEPTABLE ACTIVITY! v3. In all of our prayers, our desire must be that God may be glorified. We glorify God in our prayers when we pray as Paul instructs us.

Part of Timothy’s task, his warfare, is to be a PRAYER WARRIOR. To pray prayers that are well thought out and structured and not just rambling, to make our prayers inclusive, as much as possible, and to pray with Godly objectives in sight.

© Bob McEvoy

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