The Power of Prayer – 1 Timothy 2:1-7

I just love the faith that children bring to prayer.

I read about a little 8-year-old boy that came home from school with a stuffed animal he had won at the class Valentine’s party.

His dad asked him that happened. “Well,” the little guy explained, “the teacher put all our names together, and then picked one out. I cheated, though, — I prayed!” (Davy Troxel, New Albany, Ind. Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom.”)

We need that kind of faith in prayer don’t we?

The Power of Prayer
Photo by: anoldent (Creative Commons)

As we come to the second chapter of 1 Timothy we’ll find some essential teaching on prayer in the life of the church. Paul has direction from God about prayer that is especially important for us. This timely passage is found in the first seven verse of 1 Timothy 2.

2:1  Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,

2  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

5  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

6  who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,

7  for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle; I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying; a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

At the beginning of chapter 2 we find Paul emphasizes to Timothy the importance of prayer in public worship. Use of the phrase first of all tells us prayer has a primary importance in the life of the church. Paul reminds us that one of the primary functions of the church is prayer. How do we know he’s speaking to the collective body of believers we call the church rather than individual believers? We can be confident that Paul is instructing Timothy in the responsibility and conduct of the church by the reminder he gives Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:15

…I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God,…

Paul tells Timothy. In the church there should be prayer. Remember. Mark it down. First things first. Pray.

Paul’s emphasis on prayer is based on the preceding verses in 1 Timothy 1:18-20. How do we know this? The first word in verse 1 of chapter 2 is therefore. It has been said that when we see the word “therefore” used in the scriptures, you need to stop and find out what it’s there for.  Look at 1 Timothy 1:18-20…

18  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

19  having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,

20  of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Therefore…

2:1  … I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made…

Paul is saying in order to fight the good fight, for the sake of your faith and for your conscience to be clear you must pray for others. How is it that we need to pray for other people to have a clear conscience? Let’s think about this.

How can you have a good relationship with someone you cannot bring yourself to pray for? And I’m not talking about the kind of prayer where we say “Lord I want to pray for Howard today, that, you’ll just fix him good!” I’m talking about the kind of prayer that is taken to the Lord for others spiritual and physical needs. I mean the kind of praying for others that asks God to work in and through their lives for His glory not for my satisfaction. And doesn’t this involve being truly concerned for others, even those that rub us the wrong way? Remember what John 13:34-35 tells us…  

34  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35  “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If you are praying, with the right attitude, for those you may not agree with or those that trouble you, you are likely to have a clear conscience before the Lord, a conscience that does not condemn you. You are likely to have a good attitude toward others. Your conscience will not have to prick you for failure to love others. And I would suggest that if you find your conscience bothers you about your attitude toward someone then you should be holding them up in prayer and praying for yourself that the Lord would help you correct your attitude. One of the beautiful things about prayer is the positive change in our attitudes toward others when we are concerned enough to pray for them with a sincere heart.

And when we love one another we glorify God in the eyes of others. One of the best testimonies we can have in this community is to love one another. By this all will know we are Jesus’ disciples.

Paul doesn’t just leave us there with the urgency and importance of prayer itself but also describes four kinds of prayer.

1 …supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks…

What are Supplications? These are the requests of other people. Each Wednesday evening we share prayer request with one another. We all have heard others say, “pray about this for me.” These are requests and these requests are the desires or needs of others. Prayer certainly begins with desires and needs. We can be holding one another up in prayer whether it is here in the services or in our own family and private prayer times. And we know that God always has an ear that hears us. He wants us to bring ours and others needs and concerns to Him. He cares about each of our needs.

Paul also mentions prayers. It is the most common term for this activity and the emphasis is on the fact that we are praying to God. This is an act of worship, which requires our respect toward God and a humble attitude.

Intercession is that sort of prayer that is conversational and a form of petition. This helps us understand that our prayer ought to be one that is an intimate petition made by a friend to a king on behalf of someone else. We need to be bowing before our maker, our king, and in the intimacy of that relationship to God we can bring our petitions for others needs and concerns.

And then Paul mentions giving of thanks. Remember, this passage is instructional for Timothy in the corporate worship of the church. This thanksgiving is the type of prayer that is a worshipful prayer as is the intercession mentioned before. We should be careful not to tack this thanksgiving on the end of our prayers. A prayer of thanksgiving should be thankfulness for answered prayers, thankfulness for who God is and what He has done for us through his Son Jesus Christ. All of our prayers ought to have some element of thanksgiving in them and at times our prayers could be only thanksgiving. David gave us a good example of a prayer of thanksgiving in Psalm 103, which we read together this morning.

Paul also tells us whom we are to be praying for, all men. We ought to be praying these kinds of prayers for everyone not just our best friends or family members but everyone and verse 2 says…

2  for kings and all who are in authority

Paul reminds Timothy here that the church should be praying for everyone and especially rulers and those in authority. Note that at the time Paul wrote this he was probably under house arrest waiting for a trial before Nero. Nero had launched terrible persecution against the Christians. He eventually had Paul and Peter executed. Nero was so bloody and ruthless he is said to have had made the death of Christians “a matter of sport; they were covered in wild beast’s skins and torn to pieces by dogs; or they were fastened to crosses and set on fire to serve as torches by night.” (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary)

If Paul could urge Timothy that God wanted the church to pray for rulers and those in authority even under this sort of persecution, how can we possibly justify a lack of prayer for the rulers and those in authority in our day?

Some terrible and godless things take place in our society these days. Some of our leaders in government have gone out of their way to legalize many things that just a few years ago the average person never would have dreamed of. It is common practice for Republicans to despise Democrats and Democrats to despise Republicans. We make jokes about our political leaders. Sometimes we have a hard time praying for our political leaders. I remember when President Clinton was in office a believer telling me they couldn’t bring themselves to pray for our President and Vice President at that time.

We may find the condition of our society and the political landscape, upsetting. And the truth is many of our leaders in government are unbelievers. Many of those holding public office have never yielded their lives to the living Christ.

These are the very reasons we must be found praying for those in authority over us. The early church was often subject to persecution and opposition. So prayer for those in authority was a good idea.

And Paul tells us why it was and is such a good idea.

2 … that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

It’s a good idea to pray for those in authority over you because it’s good for you. We may not like everything our leaders do but they are in a position to make our lives miserable if it weren’t for the hand of God. Even a corrupt government that rules is better than anarchy. And God’s Word reminds us that He can use even the unsaved ruler.

(Prov 19:21 NASB)  Many are the plans in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD, it will stand.

(Prov 21:1 NASB)  The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

So Paul’s instruction is to pray for those in authority over you because God can use them for the good of the Gospel. Or as John Piper has said that, “it is important to pray for leaders because the conditions they create can either advance or impede the gospel.”

We do want to live quiet and peaceable lives don’t we? But listen to what Weirsbe says; “quiet refers to circumstances around us while peaceful refers to a calm attitude within us. The results should be lives that are godly and honorable.”

Why should the church pray for rulers to keep the peace? Is it so we can live in a peaceful happy world? No. The main idea is not that we would be able to live in peace and tranquility. But we should want quiet and peaceable lives so that the gospel would be advanced, that all people would have the knowledge of the truth of God. That is what we see in verses 3 and 4.

3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So you see we are not praying for peace for the sake of a happy life but that God’s word is delivered to a lost and dying world. A world that needs to be exposed to the truth of God’s Word.

God certainly wants all men to have the opportunity to be saved. John 3:16, 17  tell us so.

16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

17  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

And 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 also tell us that…

14  … the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;

15  and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. (NASB)

Note that this does not mean all men without exception but it means all men without distinction – Jews and gentiles, black and white, rich and poor. Christ died on the cross for the whole world but the whole world will not be saved. Many know the truth and reject Christ. But God wants us to pray for them, none-the-less. God is long-suffering with the lost. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that God may even delay judgment so that the lost can come to repentance.

9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

How will people come to repentance? How can they be saved? Paul makes it very clear for us. Look at verses 5 and 6…

5  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

6  who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,

Paul reminds us that there is one God. In spite of all our differences there is one God. In spite of all the things that seem to make us different, we will all have to face one God. There is not one god for the Hindus and one for Muslims. There is not one god for Hebrews and another for Gentiles. There is ONE GOD.

But not only is there one God there is only one mediator between God and men. That mediator is Christ Jesus. In the original language mediator meant “one who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or to form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant.”

There is disharmony between God and men because of our sin. We are out of fellowship with God because of our sin. We are separated from God and we need a mediator. Jesus Christ is that mediator and is the only one able to mediate for us because he is both man and God. Only Jesus Christ can bridge the gap between God and man.

Paul says in verse 6, Jesus Christ gave himself as a ransom to save us.

Jesus gave himself for everyone, all kinds of people. This ransom for all men is “what is given in exchange for another as the price of his redemption”. (Thayer) Christ died on our behalf. In our place. But only those who accept his sacrificial gift are set free from the chains of sin.

But how is it people will come to the knowledge of truth?

Paul told us there is one God, one Mediator, one ransom and he says I am an appointed messenger.

7  for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle; I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying; a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

The term preacher was used for “a messenger vested with public authority, who conveyed the official messages of kings, magistrates, princes, military commanders, or who gave a public summons or demand” (Thayer, p. 346). So Paul calls himself a preacher for the King of Kings. So the preacher is God’s messenger, God’s herald of the good news of the gospel of Christ. The preacher is not one who is to voice his own opinions and ideas but one with a commission to teach and proclaim God’s Word.

The need for Paul to add, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying”, implies that some of the church members at Ephesus were challenging his apostolic authority, as had happened at Corinth. (Expositors Bible Commentary)

But Paul was under God’s authority and reminds them that he was sent by God to teach the Gospel of Christ.

Like Paul we are also under God’s authority. We are to be God’s heralds of the gospel to a lost and dying world. And this is the message Paul sends to Timothy. He explains the priority for the church to pray. Pray especially for those in authority, because this pleases God, because God’s desire is for all men to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

We need to have a renewed understanding of God’s desire for us to pray. We must not be guilty of prayerlessness for those in authority over us. You should find on your list (and I hope you keep a prayer journal or prayer list) the names of government officials that you ought to be praying for. I hope you will use a prayer list and add to it some names of leaders you should be praying for.

We need to understand the power prayer holds for us as God’s church. God can use the unrepentant, heathen leader. But God wants us to put His hand in motion in the life of that leader through prayer. We need to be praying for the salvation of our leaders and praying that God would use them for the advance of the Gospel whether they repent or not.

We may not be able to physically go to the far reaches of the world. But through the power of prayer we can. We can be praying for the working of God in the lives of people we have never met and never will.

As I think about Higgins Lake Baptist Church and the fact that we are a small group of believers in a large area of need I’m encouraged when I understand that, we have enormous potential in the eyes of God. We may think we don’t have much influence in this community. But we can pray for those in positions of leadership in our community to be influenced by God.

Are you concerned about the condition of the public schools? Maybe you should develop a list of teachers and principles names to make a part of your prayer list.

Are you concerned for your community? Get the names of law enforcement officials and township and city and county officials and make it your regular habit to pray for them.

Are you disgusted by the lack of morals, character and, truthfulness and the constant presence of political wrangling in our national leaders? We need to be praying for them by name.

And don’t overlook the fact that God is concerned about how you are living your life. It’s not just a matter of being people of prayer but also of being people of faithfulness to God and His Word.

   Andrew Murray said; “The effective prayer of faith comes from a life given up to the will and the love of God.  Not as a result of what I try to be when praying, but because of what I am when I’m not praying, is my prayer answered by God.” (Andrew Murray – With Christ in the School of Prayer)

I’m certain God will use us mightily in our community and around the world if we will just commit our lives to Him in faithfulness and pray earnestly and faithfully bringing our requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving, before the Lord, for one another and those in authority.

For… (2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


1 Timothy 2:1-7
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
Kevin Pierpont, Pastor-Teacher
8/24/03