Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
The letter of 1Timothy was written to help the church deal with false teachers. But it also had a larger purpose in mind. That larger purpose was to remind Christians that the gospel causes real transformation, and what that transformation looks like in everyday life. And one evidence of that transformation is how the Christian prays – both as individual believers, and how we pray together as a church.
But Paul doesn’t just give them an imperative. He also gives them indicatives, the reasons and the rewards behind the command.
1. A praying church is better equipped to live godly lives. (vv. 1-2)
Paul’s point here is not to create some rigid categories of different kinds of prayer. Instead, he’s saying when you come together, with all of your prayers, in every way, pray for everyone, including kings and those in authority. Paul is teaching two specific truths about prayer:
- When we pray for others, God hears and can change their hearts.
- When we pray for others, God can change our hearts as well.
These are characteristics in v. 2 describe a life that is truly transformed by the gospel. When pray for others, it helps us to see through God’s eyes, placing our trust in Him.
And that causes me to live in peace and godliness, instead of anxiety and unforgiveness. I can be godly and dignified rather than worldly and foolish. Prayer reminds us that we need God’s grace as much as anyone. When you’re praying for someone, your attention is no longer on the wrong they did you, but it’s on the mercy and grace of God. Praying for others, especially for those who have done us wrong, will cause our hearts to soften.
2. A praying church is pleasing to the Lord. (vv. 3-4)
These verses show that when we come together as a church and pray, we should be praying for the salvation of all people. That pleases the Lord because He desires all people to be saved. Now, that may raise some questions for us. If God desires all people to be saved, why aren’t all people saved?
For one thing, when we talk about God’s will, there is a distinction. There is the revealed will of God (what God desires), and the secret or unrevealed will of God (what God decrees). God desires all to be saved, but He has decreed that only His sheep will be saved.
If you believe that Jesus actually died on the cross so that every person everywhere would be saved, then you have to say he failed in His mission since every person is not saved. But Jesus never fails. He always accomplishes what He sets out to do. Jesus never intended on every person everywhere to be saved. Otherwise, they would be. But Jesus did intended for every single one of His sheep to be saved, the elect, and every single one of them will be saved.
Paul is telling the church to pray for all people to be saved. Don’t withhold your prayers and don’t withhold your witness from anyone. We don’t know who will be saved. It’s not our place to try and determine who will trust in Christ and who will not.
We are called to share the gospel with everyone. We are called to pray for everyone – pray that every single person would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. God desires that all would be saved, yet God decrees who will be saved. That means as a church – we are called to share the gospel with everyone and pray for everyone to be saved.
3. A praying church exalts Jesus as our Mediator. (vv. 5-7)
These verses form one of the clearest, most succinct summaries of the gospel. There is one God. His is holy and above all. And God the Father has appointed a Savior to atone for the sinner, a Mediator between God and man. That Mediator is Christ Jesus, who came to earth, lived the perfect sinless life, he willingly died on the cross as a ransom for all of God’s people. That is the testimony – the trustworthy, personal account given by God Himself to His church to go and spread to every language and nation.
And the key word here is “Mediator”, which means an intermediary, literally, one who stands in-between. In the Old Testament, God appointed the high priest to be the intermediary, the one who would be the go-between for God to man and man to God. The average person couldn’t just walk into the Tabernacle into the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could do that. He was the one who went to God on your behalf.
But Jesus changed all that. With a sinless life, He fulfilled the Law of Moses. With His sacrificial death, He became our final sacrifice, the final blood atonement for our sins. And by His resurrection, He proved He is God Incarnate, the Savior of Sinners, the Redeemer, the better High Priest, the One and only Mediator between God and man.
Paul is telling Timothy to remind the church of this great truth. The Old Testament priests were but types and shadows of the true High Priest to come – Jesus Christ. He has come and accomplished what He was sent to do.
So that when we pray, we pray directly to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, with the full assurance that we are invited to approach His throne boldly knowing that we will receive grace in our time of need.
A praying church is a powerful church. Let us pray with greater fervency and greater faith for God to save the lost, including our leaders. And let’s pray that we would live lives that reflect the gospel we preach.