First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made… (1 Timothy 2:1)
The Lord Jesus Christ expects us, His believers, to pray. That is why in His teaching on prayer in the Sermon of the Mount, He said, “when you pray” and not “if you pray.” In other words, Jesus expects His followers to pray. This being the case, the importance of prayer can never be over-emphasised. Now in Timothy 2:1-7, Paul in writing to his protege, Timothy, also urged Christians everywhere to pray. From the way Paul structured his writing, we learn that prayer is universal in scope. He said that prayers should be offered for all of God’s work. It must be offered for all men (verse 1) because the desire and concern of Christ is for all men to be saved (verse 4). Besides, His atoning work is for all (verses 5-6). Paul was called and commissioned as an apostle, a preacher, and teacher to the Gentiles, meaning, all other nations besides Israel (verse 7). So here he was, encouraging Christians everywhere to offer prayers for all in leadership, as well as all men i.e., all ordinary citizens of all nations.
Prayers, he said, should take first place and not be relegated to the last resort. It should be the Christian’s top priority. By “First of all,” he was emphasising priority, not in the order of time but in the order of importance. Here we see a few significant roles that prayers will play. Firstly, prayer will create an environment for believers to live a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and holiness. Without peace, the environment will not be conducive for godly and holy living. Godliness here implies devotion to God, while holiness refers to being morally upright. Secondly, prayer is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. To accomplish the concern of God to save and impact all men, prayers will be needed. The saving grace of God can be made more effective when undergirded by prayers.
Paul then captured the essence of the Gospel in 1 Timothy 2:5-6. The message according to Paul is about God’s work through Jesus Christ whom He had sent as the mediator between mankind and Him. Christ gave Himself as a ransom to redeem all mankind. In verse 7, the apostle then reiterated his calling and appointment as a preacher and an apostle to the Gentiles. He was a teacher to the Gentiles in matters relating to faith and truth.
The invitation to pray is an invitation to co-labour with God. Like it or not, in prayer, we are driven to think about God and the world we live in. When we pray, we have to grapple with the assignments God has for us in the world we live in. Through prayer, we can bring God’s plan to bear in the governmental authority, in our environment, and in our redemptive mission of effecting change in the spiritual climate and destiny of our nation and world. Let us pray so that our mighty God can effect changes in our world for His glory!