Prayer is an essential element to the Christian life and to not spend time in prayer is detrimental to our walk. It is for this reason that the people of God are to be devoted to prayer (Col. 4:2). Such devotion reveals our dependence upon God, which of course is necessary because we need His help. When we neglect prayer we are living a prideful life because we are not seeking His help in all that we do. Neglect of prayer is prideful and detrimental to our spiritual walk and to the influence of our church. God has determined that His purposes are accomplished by means, and one of those means is prayer. In addition to being a part of our private worship (Matt. 6:6), prayer is also to be a part of our public worship (1 Tim. 2:1-8). Prayer will be varied in its focus. One of these is prayer for the lost (1 Sam. 12:23; Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59-60; Rom. 10:1). In 1 Timothy 2:1-8, Paul provides the mandate and guidelines for public prayer for the lost.
The Priority of Public Prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-2a)
This section begins with the priority of public prayer. Paul urges thatprayer of all kinds (“supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings“) must “be made for all people” (1 Tim. 2:1). The reference to “all people” reveals that prayer is not to be limited to a certain group. Furthermore, particular prayer is to be made for “kings and all who are in “high positions” (2:2a). God has appointed governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-2) and we are obligated to pray for them. This will include the desire for their salvation and for wisdom in their leadership.
The public prayer in the church is not to be limited to internal matters (though they are essential to include), but it is to include evangelistic concern for the lost (cf. Rom. 10:1).
The Purpose of Public Prayer (1 Tim. 2:2b-7)
The purpose of public prayer in the church is twofold. Firstly, it is for the benefit ofthe church. He says, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:2b). This refers to a peaceful condition in which we can live out the gospel freely (cf. 1 Thess. 4:11-12). Also, the purpose of public prayer is for the salvation of the lost. He adds, “this is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:3). Public prayer for the lost is good and pleasing to the Lord because it is in line with the reason why Christ came into the world. It is God’s desire that “all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Verse 5 makes it clear that there is only one God. Sure, there may be millions of “gods” in the world today, and people may serve them with all sincerity. But there is only one true God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth (Is. 44:6). Because there is only one God, there is only one way of salvation, which is exclusively through Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12). He died at the appointed time in God’s plan so that He would ransom people of all kinds (1 Tim. 2:6). It was on the basis of these gospel truths that Paul was commissioned to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles (2:7).
The Practice of Public Prayer (1 Tim. 2:8)
Knowing that public evangelistic prayer is to take place in the church, how is it to be practiced? With apostolic authority (cf. 1 Tim. 2:7), Paul desired “that in every place (public worship meetings) the men should pray“. Unlike verse 5, the word here for “men” refers to a male. It is the Lord’s intention that the men lead the prayer in the corporate worship. However, not any man, but those who live a holy life (1 Tim. 2:8; cf. Psalm 24:3-4; 66:18; James 5:16).
If we desire to see our nation transformed, we need to pray. If we desire to see loved ones transformed, we need to pray. If we are going to be obedient to the Lord and effective as a church it is critical that we be a praying church. All of you can be a part of that. You can pray privately, you can attend prayer meetings with hearts desiring to seek God. And you can say “Amen!” to public prayers prayed at church. Let us be a people of prayer.
- Is prayer to be a priority in the life of the Christian and church? See 1 Sam. 12:23; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; James 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:7. Why does consistent prayer seem to be a challenge?
Read verses 1-2
- Verse one reveals various kinds of prayer. Using the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic as an example, discuss the value of varied prayer.
- According to our passage, for whom should we be praying for and why? See 2:1-2.
Read verses 3-8
- What do verses 3-6 teach us about God and the way of salvation?
- Some suggest that 2:4 teaches that all people will end up being saved (universalism). Why is this wrong?
- List some practical suggestions to help us be disciplined in prayer