THE PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH
The Household of God
1 Timothy 2:1-7
READ THE TEXT:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
BRIDGE THE GAP:
As we continue our study of 1 Timothy we’ve reached chapter two and Paul shifts gears. As Paul prepared for his fourth and final missionary journey, he left Timothy in the city of Ephesus to shepherd and lead the church there—and Timothy’s first job that we saw in chapter one was to correct the teaching that was happening in that church. The elders in that church had begun to drift from the doctrine that Jesus Christ had taught the apostles to teach and Timothy had to set it straight.
Now, in chapter two, Paul instructs Timothy to shape and structure the prayers of public worship. And in this instruction we see that when the church gathers on the Lord’s Day, we are to prioritize praying for all people.
It’s crucial to remember, as we work through this passage, that these instructions are for the assembled church. Certainly, you can apply all the principles of this passage to your own individual prayer life—but the context of Paul’s teaching is in reference to the ministry of the saints to one another and to the entire world on the Lord’s Day. It’s a potent reminder that God has placed the church- not just individual Christians- at the center of his work in the world.
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:
Notice how the text begins:
First of all, then, I urge
When Paul says “first of all,” he isn’t saying that the first item in the order of worship must be prayer—he’s saying that prayer must be a priority in worship. And, he urges this. It’s the same urging he gave Timothy to correct wayward teaching. Prayer, Paul says, isn’t optional for public worship. It’s essential.
What kind of prayer? What should we pray about? Paul writes…
that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions,
These four words: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings, are four words Paul chooses to summarize all of the prayers a church ought to pray when the church gathers.
- Supplications is a word that means “requests” or “petition”
- Prayers refers to our devotion to God in prayer.
- Intercessions refers to standing in the gap for the needs of others. Think of it as intervention praying.
- Thanksgiving recognizes God as the giver of all that we have and the answerer of all our prayers.
We are to offer all those kinds of prayers on behalf of all kinds of people. For kings and for peasants.
And we are to pray this way so that…
we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
We are to pray for kings so that our lives won’t be disturbed by unjust rulers. We are to pray for neighbors and bosses so that we’ll be able to live quiet lives of godliness in their midst.
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
We see that God is pleased with this kind of praying. This is the kind of prayer that God loves to answer and bless. If you want to pray prayers you know God loves, then pray like this.
Why is this pleasing to God? Because God desires to save all people. The all in this passage doesn’t refered to “every last person,” but rather to all “kinds” of people. We are to pray for kings because God desires to save kings. We are to pray for peasants because God desires to save peasants. He isn’t just the savior of an elite few—he is the savior for every kind of person there is.
5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Why does God hear our prayers? Why does he listen to us? Because we have a mediator, Jesus Christ. The Son of God stands between us and our Father in heaven. Our prayers ascend to the Father not because we’ve been obedient, but because Christ was obedient in our place and bore our guilt.
Finally, Paul reminds us of his own commission:
7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
As I said, Paul’s instruction in this passage is given to the church. Timothy is in Ephesus to shape and structure the public worship of the church. And in this passage we learn a great deal.
THE CHURCH IS A PUBLIC INSTITUTION
First, the church is a public institution. We are called, as one pastor said, to “intrude upon the affairs of the world. We are to pray for kings and peasants, for neighbors and nations. Ours is a public faith. It is not a private faith. It is not a faith that only operates in secret.
GATHERED WORSHIP IS OUR STRATEGY
How does the world change? Paul says, “Worship.” God has placed the gathered worshipping church in the center of God’s strategy for changing the world.
What we are doing, here and now, has international and cosmic ramifications.
THE BEST CONDITIONS FOR GROWTH
Gardening – conditions for certain plaints.
We certainly see that the church has grown in times of persecution. We thank God for the martyrs of the faith. But Paul is indicating here that we ought to pray for peaceful lives—so that we can live out our faith as quiet citizens.
Peaceful times means the church gets to focus on
THE ROLE OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
This prayer teaches us the primary functions and duties of the civil magistrates. Paul was praying for kings and emperors. We are praying for Presidents and Legislators, Mayors and City Counsellors.
The role of goverment, according to Scripture, is to maintain public order so that citizens can live peaceful and quiet lives. They are to be the hall monitors of society, not the principal of the school.
Good government matters. And Paul is telling us that good government, that promote peace allow the work of the church to continue unhindered.
There are two equal and opposite dangers for us as we think about governments. The first is to treat the government as if it were our savior. The second is to say that governments don’t matter at all. And finding the balance point between those two is TOUGH.
Sadly, we live in a nation that worships government as god; who put political leaders on idolatrous pedestals. And this happens with democrats and conservatives. It happens with non-Christians and Christians alike.
What I fear, far more than non-believers, who vote for evil leaders, are Christians who worship and serve good leaders.
Too many Christians think: if we can change what’s happening in the political realm then we can change the culture. This is backwards.
Politics is downstream from culture… and culture is downstream from worship.
What a people worship determines what their culture will be like, which determines what kind of political leaders they will elect or submit to.
Paul says, “Get worship right, first… then the world will be evangelized.”
Our primary focus ought to be on the right worship of God, first,—then as a consequence, politics will sort itself out.
HOW THE WORLD IS WON
So, take all of this together and ask, “How is the world evangelized?” The answer is, first, because Christ died on the cross as a substitute. Paul calls him a ransom. He stood in the place of sinners and bore the condemnation of sinners. And as a result, the church is called to proclaim Christ, to preach Christ—and as we do, we pray. We pray for kings and all people that we might enjoy peace, because peace promotes and enables more preaching and proclaiming of Christ.