A Prayerful People
Look with me this morning at 1 Timothy 2:1-8. In this letter, Paul is instructing young Timothy on how to establish the church there. And one of the first things that Paul stresses is PRAYER.
If we are honest, often times prayer is left as a last resort. We are so resourceful, we have so many means, it seems more often than not we can solve issues on our own thru these various means. We rarely need outside help or are beyond ourselves, or so it seems. We rarely get to the end of ourselves and our resources to the point of desperation.
But then there are times like what we are facing now. What do we do then? What might God use this time to remind His people of? My hope and prayer for TCO is that it teaches us to be a prayerful people.
As Paul begins to tell Timothy how to conduct oneself in the local church (3:15), he puts prayer as the first priority (2:1, “First of all”). But Paul is not just talking about the need for prayer in general. He is talking about the need for prayer as it relates to the salvation of the lost.
He repeats some words and ideas in 2:1-8 that show this: “all men” (2:1); “all” (2:2); “God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved” (2:3, 4); “mediator ... between God and men” (2:5); “a ransom for all, the testimony” (2:6); “preacher and ... teacher of the Gentiles” (2:7). Paul is talking about people—and not just about a certain few, but about all people. And he is talking about the Savior. His concern is that people would be saved.
This speaks to all believers in all times. We too should have such a burden for those who are perishing without Christ that we’re driven to entreat God, who is the Savior, that all people might be reached with the good news that there is a Mediator who gave Himself as the ransom for their sins. Even now.
That involves praying for leadership, whether you voted for them or not, with the ultimate goal being the progress of the gospel. Even our own behavior is linked to this ultimate goal here in our text, see verse 2. Everything is ultimately focused on progressing the gospel.
Does such prayer pervade our church? Does such prayer pervade your life? Does such prayer pervade my life? I confess that I fall far short here at times. I would guess that many of you do too. It’s easy to get preoccupied with our own lives and agendas, the tyranny of the now, and neglect the things that are most important to God and really are the foundation of why we are here - progressing the gospel.
During this time of isolation, may we learn this discipline and its effectiveness. May it overflow in praying without ceasing, as 1 Thess. 5:17 commands. This will be very powerful, and interestingly, we can do it even during quarantine. Especially during times of social distancing.
Again, the church cannot be shut down. God's work and mission continues. May we be a church who continues to pursue this work, even during quarantine, thru the powerful work of prayer. May our number one priority be seeing people saved from the penalty of their sin and growing in the gospel.