“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers,
intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…”
(1 Timothy 2:1, NIV)
(1 Timothy 2:1, NIV)
“The first thing I want you to do is pray.
Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know” (The Message)
My NIV Bible begin chapter two with a title Instructions on Worship; and NLT Instructions for the church. Okay, if the apostle Paul is going to talk about the church he certainly will start out with either preaching, teaching or church service order, right? Wrong! “The first thing I want you to do is pray.” How different from us, from me. No doubt, we affirm that prayer is the most important thing in a church and the highest privilege of a Christian, we said. But we live as if it didn’t amount to much at all. The busier we become the less time we spend in prayer. I once leading a prayer meeting, and if you had too, I can be sure that (most but not all) it is the poorest attended meeting of the week compare to Christmas party, family outing and youth concert. Where are the prayer warriors?
Now, back to the text. Paul uses four words to describe prayer: requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. The first is “requests” or “supplications.” It is an expression of need, coming helplessly to our Heavenly Father to bring all our needs to Him. The second word “prayers,” is the general word used for prayer and it carries with it the idea of worship and reverence or the fear of the Lord. The next word is “intercession.” Simply put, it mean to pray for and on behalf of other people. If you read verse 2, Paul asked Timothy to pray and intercede “for kings and all those in authority.” I think one of the reason many people (especially netizens) complaints and criticize our political leaders (yes, they are wrong most of the time) is because they didn’t pray for them. If we understand what it means to intercede for others, we would pray more and criticize less.
The last word is “thanksgiving.” I like to highlight this word because I sense that people of God today lack the attitude of giving thanks. Two things that, if people said it, it make them super rare these day are: “I appreciate you” and “thank you.” After people send you home, say “thank you”; after someone helped you, say “thank you”; when God answered your prayer, say “thank you” (even before you received it, say “thank you”). Hey, thanksgiving is a form of prayer! It is interesting that one of the sins mentioned in Romans 1:21 that cause God’s wrath against mankind is that they “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” Yes, thanksgiving to God is not natural to our old natures, so we need to cultivate it in our hearts.
So Timothys, “the first thing I want you to do is pray.” Do it.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.