This was presented on November 24, 2013 as part of the 1 Timothy series.
What is the first thing you teach your disciple? The question might be easier if I asked, “What do you teach a child?” You obviously wouldn’t teach your six month old to drive a car, balance his checkbook, begin potty training, or even to walk. He is barely able to stand while you are holding him. And besides, crawling is excellent for teaching motor skills and should not be bypassed on a fast track to walking. What do you do with a baby? How many are thinking, “I teach them to say, “Mama and dada.” Many of you teach sign language at the same time, because they can learn “more,” “all done,” and “please,” long before they can mouth the words. The point is you are teaching them to communicate. Is that not what we should teach disciples? Teach them to pray.
The first prayer my mother taught me was,
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
How many were taught that? I personally like the prayer, because, while some fear it would cause a child to become fearful of death, I was comforted by being taught that it was a part of life, like my goldfish or turtle that died, and I got to be with Jesus. I certainly didn’t understand it, but I wasn’t afraid of it. What have you been taught about prayer? It is a weapon of our warfare. What should you teach about prayer? Notice what Paul communicates to Timothy.
1) Jesus directs prayer for all men 2:1
When Christians face challenges, they do their best to overcome them. When Christians really have trouble, as a last resort, they go to prayer. What often comes last in action, Jesus says through Paul, “Do it first.” What we often do for ourselves, Paul exhorts us to do also for others. Prayer is all about relationship.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. (1 Tim. 2:1)
Paul begins with the word “therefore” and when you see that word, you should always ask, “What’s that there for?” Remember how Paul is writing to young pastor Timothy who is struggling in Ephesus with the sheep that are teaching false doctrines and pressuring his authority. Women are bullying him. He is ready to leave! Paul begins with his authority as an apostle and commands Timothy not to leave Ephesus, but to take charge and not let anyone teach false doctrines. At the same time Paul says, the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a genuine faith.
Paul goes on in chapter one to cite the fact that Timothy will be dealing with lots of sinners that the Law exposes. In fact, Paul confesses, he was once a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man. How bad could a person be! Yet, Paul thanks Christ Jesus for His empowerment for ministry, mercy in forgiveness and grace in abundance! And he gives a doxology of praise that Jesus is the Savior of the world, He is merciful and patient and He is King forever and ever. Yet, with all that praise, there is a war going on and “Timothy, you’re in it. You cannot avoid it. You can be passive or a pacifist, but you are in a spiritual war, in which you need to trust the Lord to let some suffer shipwreck from the enemy, but be ready for those who repent.” “Therefore,” Paul said, “I exhort you.”
The word “exhort” means “to come alongside,” “to admonish,” or “to charge.” Paul is not making a suggestion. He is not giving Timothy a choice. He is not giving him options. “Timothy, do this.” What is he to do? Well, before we get there, notice it is “first of all.” Paul is placing what he is about to say of primary, essential, and top priority. Notice he doesn’t tell Timothy, “Get your structure right.” He doesn’t tell Timothy, “Get the music or your preaching just right.” He told Timothy, “What I am about to tell you is top priority.” What is it? Prayer. Notice the four ways he describes prayer and for whom it is for – “for all men.”
People who love Jesus will pray. In 1990, prayer soared all over our country and all over the world. Why? We prayed during Operation Desert Shield. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the United States led a coalition of forces to drive Iraq back away from Kuwait. Millions of people prayed all over the world.
Lack of prayer says to some degree, “I’m independent of God.” Many Christians are captivated by information and learning, but have little interest in prayer. People will come to a church pitch in, but how many come to a church prayer meeting? When a church doesn’t depend on prayer, God ceases to bless it. Warren Wiersbe writes, “The Word instructs the church; prayer inspires the church to obey the Word. The church that has an abundance of Bible teaching but little prayer will have ‘much light, but no heat.’ It will be orthodox but frozen.”
What are these four words Paul uses for prayer? These four words identify four types of prayer.
- Supplications – prayer seeking needs from God. deesis
- Prayers – prayer addressed to set God apart with men. It is an act of worship. proseuxe
- Intercessions – prayer falling in with, or meeting with God, enteuzis.
- Giving thanks – Prayer giving thanks for who God is and what He has done for men. eucharistia
And finally note the prayers are made for all men – not just some, special ones. These are sinners and saints. There may be some hard nuts to crack. We used to have a Texas Nutcracker. It had a five pound steel cylinder, a wooden piston and rubber bands to smash the wonderful pecans we used to gather around Fort Hood, Texas. That’s the purpose of prayer for people who might be hard nuts. We pray while the Holy Spirit does the convicting. The good warfare we studied last week begins with prayer.
This book “OPERATION World” is an excellent resource for prayer. It provides a daily prayer plan with information on the countries around the world. What a great resource to pray for all men and the spiritual needs of the countries. Why is prayer first of all and of primary importance? It’s God’s battle. We can take up the battle ourselves with good intentions, but it is His battle. Prayer says, we trust Him to work. We’re dependent on Him. What are the effects of prayer? After the six month build up of Operation Desert Shield, there was Operation Desert Storm. Do you remember that? It was a war that the coalition won in 96 hours. If we would have taken 96 more hours, we could have avoided Operation Iraqi Freedom.
What should you teach about prayer? Jesus directs prayer for all men. Notice in verse two how Paul becomes specific.
2) Pray especially for those in authority 2:2a
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (1 Tim. 2:2 NKJ)
Paul directs Timothy to lead people in prayer for “kings.” This would include Caesar, or the governor, or in our case, the president. Paul was aware of the political atmosphere in Rome – it was very immoral, degenerate and therefore abusive. So why pray for kings and Caesars? Rome suffered fires in 64 A.D., which the Christians did not start, but Nero blamed on them. This was the time of Nero’s garden parties when Nero used Christians for his lighting. Nero poured and applied pitch on Christians, tied them to a post and then lit them on fire. Pray for Caesar?
Political upheaval is often a time when Christians die for Christ and it’s very difficult to live for Him. Do you think that could happen today? We ought to pray lest things spiral down. You may not respect a leader, but pray for him.
Notice the second category, “All in authority.” As goes the authority, so goes the followers. Let the father be indifferent to God and the children will not pursue the Lord. There are fathers who ARE pursuing the Lord and raising children is still difficult. Why pray? Prayer expresses dependence on God. It pleases God. Do we need another reason? What should you teach about prayer? Jesus directs that we should pray for all men, especially for kings and those in authority. Why?
3) The purpose of prayer is that we lead godly lives 2:2b
2 …that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (1 Tim. 2:2 NKJ)
The purpose of prayer is not for our comfort or relief, although there is not something wrong with that prayer. The purpose is not so that Aunt Mildred will be free from her ingrown toenails, although there is not something wrong with that prayer. The purpose of prayer is so that we can have a quiet and peaceable life. Quiet from political intrusion and trouble, so we can worship Jesus Christ. Quiet so we can honor Him. Peaceable, so we can witness to our neighbors and disciple Christ-followers. Peaceable, so we can give non-believers a glimpse of what heaven is like.
Even in turmoil, Christians can have peace spiritually. Prayer is not because it’s a nice thing for little old people to do. It is the life action of the church, because it demonstrates to those who pray dependence on God’s will and power. While the world is in an uproar, you can have inner peace in Jesus. He came to bring peace. Paul said, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1 NKJ) When things are out of hand, and emotions have taken over, the Spirit is not leading. Pray according to Paul’s command, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor. 14:40 NKJ)
Paul qualifies this by two things. The quiet and peaceable life is not so we can do what we want; it is so that life will be lived “in all godliness and reverence.” Godliness refers to “the manner of holy living.” Reverence refers to “serious dignity.” Serious dignity is how people act when they are getting married. You don’t see joking around when they are standing up on the platform, or speaking their vows. There is a quiet solemnity because they are aware that from now on, there will be no more looking at the field of people. Of course, you’ve seen plenty of weddings where someone forgets his line or misspeaks and a little humor is thrown in while trying to find that ring.
Here is a great and simple way to pray in all circumstances. I have taught, like many people, the ACTS method. I also teach the CAST method, which is really the same, but just a different order of words. CAST stands for “Confession, Adoration, Supplication and Thanksgiving.” Let’s notice supporting verses with each word.
The first word is “Confession.” The Psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” (Ps. 66:18 NKJ) It would seem the first thing we should do is confess any known sins, so that we can be restored to fellowship with the Lord. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJ) When we are cleansed, we also are restored to Him, so He will hear our prayers.
The second word is “Adoration.” I love what King David sang,
I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Ps. 9:1-2 NKJ)
The Lord deserves continual praise for not smashing everyone like a bug on a sidewalk. To think of all of His provisions in creation and salvation is unbelievable!
The third word is “Supplication.” Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6 NKJ) These are prayers seeking needs from God for others and self.
The fourth word is “Thanksgiving .” Paul admonished the Thessalonians, “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes. 5:18 NKJ) Paul doesn’t say, “give thanks for everything,” but “in everything give thanks.” That is, in the circumstances, give thanks, because you believe God is sovereign and in control. Give thanks that He is somehow going to use the circumstance to conform you to the image of Jesus. Give thanks that the circumstance is not worse than it is!
This is a key concept of prayer, because it is what the non-believers refuse to do. Paul wrote, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom. 1:21 NKJ) Non-believers are not thankful. Believers have everything to be thankful for, even in the midst of horrible circumstances. Believers are going to heaven. Let me give you an example.
Daniel was in a pickle. Wicked men knew that Daniel was a regular prayer warrior. They despised Daniel for his position, influence and favor from King Darius. So their plan was to fool King Darius with something that made sense, but would catch Daniel in violation and thus be executed. Specifically the plan was “whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” (Dan. 6:7 NKJ) Daniel wrote,
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. 11 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. (Dan. 6:10-11 NKJ)
Daniel knew of the wicked decree, but he kept doing what he normally did. Why? Pray was top priority and he wouldn’t budge on his relationship with God.
Prayer is both a thermometer and a thermostat. What’s the difference? A thermometer measures the conditions of a room or space. A thermostat establishes or influences the conditions of a room or space. As a thermometer, prayer measures where your priorities are. Prayer measures what is important to you. It measures where your focus is, i.e. do you care for those needs of others. As a thermostat prayer directs the priority of life on your relationship and trust in the Lord Jesus. As a thermostat it tells others that you trust in the Lord more than any strength or ability of man. Godly prayer motivates Christians to disciple people and lead the church to be known for prayer rather than just personal victories.
Men and women:
Those who love Jesus Christ will pray for all people to be transformed!
- If you know the gospel, pray like you believe it. South Korea became a great missionary sending country, because for many decades, Koreans would get up at 4 am and join together to pray for their witness and spiritual growth. What would happen if more people of Grace came to the 8:30am prayer meeting on Sunday morning to pray for the service and souls to be saved? What would happen if people prayed during the service as my wife is praying right now in my office? What would happen if people came to the men’s and women’s prayer meetings on Thursday mornings? I’m grateful for the prayer that goes on in home groups and fellowship groups. Those are tremendous witnesses. Prayer is not just a good thing to do, it is the strongest weapon of our warfare outside of God’s Word.
- Prayer is your effective weapon in the good warfare. Use the gospel to pray for hard people. It will soften your heart to help them. It will soften your heart toward others and move God to move in their heart according to God’s will.
- Transformation in people begins with prayer at God’s throne of mercy. If everyone in Grace prayed as often and just like you, would there be very much prayer at Grace?
In closing turn to Colossians 1:9-11. Paul wrote,
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. (Col. 1:9-11 NKJ)
What does Paul not pray for? He doesn’t pray for their church music, or better pews or even a better pastor. He prays for them to be filled, that is, captivated by God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Why? So that they can fulfill four things:
- Walk worthy of the Lord
- Fully please the Lord
- Bear fruit in every good work
- Increase in the knowledge of God
Those four things are what we should pray for people all the time. God expects His children to grow up and walk worthy to fully please Him. He has that right and He is deserving of it. His children ought to bear fruit in every good work as they continue to increase in knowledge and wisdom. That kind of prayer will produce transformation. That kind of prayer will come from “Prayer Warriors.”
- Do you sometimes feel forsaken
- All alone, with none to care,
- When the burden on your shoulders
- Seems too great for you to bear
- Are you wearied with the journey
- And the sorrows you have known?
- Talk it over with the Master
- You are really not alone,
- Let your fainting heart take courage.
- And your restless fears be still
- he has promised not to leave you.
- And he never never will.
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What are things that you think about when you pray?
2) What was the one thing the disciples asked Jesus to teach them (Luke 11:1f)? ______________________ Note Luke 18: 1-8. What do you learn about prayer in this account?
3) What are other leadership positions that would be comparable to “kings” from 1 Timothy 2:2? _________________ ___________________Why does Paul emphasize praying for kings? What attacks could national leaders have (Dan. 10:1-13)?
4) What kind of life did Paul say should result from prayer (1 Tim. 2:2)? _______________ _______________________ What does that look like? (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; John 17:20-23; Col. 1:9-10; 1 Pet. 4:12-14; 5:10)?
Making application of the message to life:
5) Meditate on 1 Corinthians 11:1. If everything at Grace depended on you and people were following your example, would they be very involved in prayer? When would they be praying?
6) What specific steps can you take to increase your prayer involvement for others?
7) How would you disciple a Christian to understand and then live out prayer in his/her life?