“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer,
without anger or disputing”
without anger or disputing”
(1 Timothy 2:8, NIV)
Keep in mind that the apostle Paul here is continuing his instructions concerning prayer which were begun in verse 1. Here, in this verse, Paul gave instruction on who is to do the praying and how they are to pray. He wrote, “I want…” Previously, he said that God “wants all men to be saved” (v.4), but now Paul “want men” to pray. He is expressing what he would like to see take place in the church.
And this is interesting, “men” here is not refer to mankind in general, but men in specific contrast to women. Paul, based on my reading of his epistles, is clearly pointing out that the leadership and responsibility for prayer in the public worship service is upon the men, not women. This definitely doesn’t mean that a woman cannot pray in public worship service, far from it (read 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul gives instructions for women to do so), but the headship and leadership of men is to be recognized. Again, keep in mind that Paul is giving instructions for the public worship service (church service, if you would like to call it), not a service specifically called for prayer. Women should not hesitate to participate freely in such a service as long as the headship of man is recognized. This is God’s will.
“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer…” Although lifting or raising hands while worship is harmless even good, I don’t think Paul is talking about bodily posture here. Our heart posture in which we offer prayers matter more than our body posture: “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (Psalms 66:19, NLT). “Holy” refers to quality of life, not a part of the body. The heart must be clean and the life holy if prayer is to be heard. Sins have cut we off from God (refer to Isaiah 59:1-2), therefore, holiness is necessary for effectual prayer. Remember, we can be holy because through and in Christ we have been made holy (read Hebrews 10:10). We are and we can be. There also must not be “anger or disputing” or as Eugene Peterson paraphrased, “not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.” Anger against one another and/or resentment against God also can cut us off from Him and makes prayer unacceptable.
So, when we pray to God – when men pray – men should take the headship, leadership and godly examples in the public worship service. We must examine our hearts daily and confess our sins so that it will not cut off our relationship with God. And ask the Lord to fill us with His holiness, peace and mercy as we lead others in prayer. Where are men of God today? Be one.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.