By: Raymond Harris
Contributor: Virgil Wininiger
Regarding Scripture: First Timothy 2.1-2
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Epistle of First Timothy in conjunction with this article.
Supplications and Prayers
Each of our shepherds have been asked to provide some ideas as to what they find interesting and noteworthy for examination in our articles. As we continue our examination of First Timothy, this week’s suggestion comes from our Elder Virgil Wininger. Brother Wininger suggested three items from the second chapter. The first is from verses one and two and its references to supplication and prayer. The second is from verse eight and its references to praying without anger and disputing. The third is from verse fifteen and the mentioning of women and childbirth. Again, considering time constraints and possible reader, writer, and Elder personal preferences, we will examine his first suggestion because of the verses’ physical and chronological position within Paul’s epistle to Timothy. With no other preferences in mind, we will spend a brief period looking at the fist and second verses from chapter two.
Prayer and the Disciple
Prayer is an important part of the disciple’s life. Prayer is one of the methods that a disciple can use to contact the Magnificent Provider. Through prayer one communicates to God many things, from anxieties to hopes; from concerns to dreams. Prayer not only can represent our longing to contact our Father, but prayer can also embody the closeness of relationship that any human can have with him. Prayer is a manifestation of the spiritual side of the human being contacting the Ultimate Spiritual Being. So as we can see, in many ways prayer helps one’s soul.
Prayer and Timothy
When we come to the second chapter of First Timothy we can see that Paul has compacted many ideas about prayer in a few short words. Paul’s thoughts about prayer continue through verse eight, but for now let us consider the first two verses:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all [people]; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.1
There are many key concepts in those two verses, but the first thing that is important to notice is the word therefore (some translations use the word then). The word therefore/then is important because therefore/then represents a continued thought. This continuation of thought has its origination back in the eighteenth verse of chapter one.
Beginning with verse eighteen of chapter one, Paul gave Timothy a charge (or instruction) to fight the good fight holding onto faith with a good conscience. In was in light of that instruction that Paul urged Timothy to offer supplications (petitions) for all people, to pray for all people, to intercede for all people, and to give thanks for all people. It seems that Paul is reasoning that in order for Timothy to keep fighting the good fight of faith it was necessary for Timothy to be mindful of everyone asking for God to bless them.
Prayer and Ephesus
What does this teaching about prayer mean to Timothy’s direct relation to Ephesus? In our last article, there was a section titled Paul’s Concern about Ephesus. In that area of the article much was discussed and revealed about Paul’s real worry for the Ephesian church experiencing teachers leading people astray and wolves devouring the disciples. It seems that this should become a necessary part of the contextual backdrop in which Timothy is to offer his prayers.
Verse two of chapter two mentions kings, but in the same breath Paul mentions “all that are in authority” is it possible that this could also mean church leaders? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But at the close of verse one, Paul tells Timothy to pray for all people, and this seems to certainly include church leaders. With the proximity of all people, kings, and all in authority it seems that Paul may have had much in mind, from church leaders to civil leaders.
When we consider the entirety of verse one and knowing Paul’s concerns for Ephesus, it becomes even more poignant that Timothy was instructed to petition God on the behalf of teachers and possible wolves in Ephesus. How important is it for Timothy to offer prayer for the individual disciples, for their respective families, for the church, and their society?
If the church experienced (even in the slightest degree) any of Paul’s concerns, how imperative is it that Timothy interceded (pleading trying to resolve conflicts among others)2 to God on behalf of anyone and everyone in order for the church to survive such negativism? And then Paul instructed Timothy to pray with an attitude of being thankful for everyone, including those who are not friendly to the faith, whether inside or outside the church.
Prayer and Us
Understanding Timothy and his situation is helpful to us. By seeing his situation we can better see how to live as modern disciples. Praying for one’s self is easy. Praying for others is not so easy. Consider for a moment, a teaching of Jesus “pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you.”3 This thought by Jesus and Paul’s instructions on prayer fit well together, but earnestly making petitions and offering prayers for all people is not as easy as it seems. Knowing that this type of prayer is good, but praying in such manner seems to be a strong indicator that God’s love truly rules a disciple’s own heart.
Let us also keep in mind the closing of Paul’s instructions about prayer. Paul closed his thoughts, stating that prayers should be conducted “without wrath or doubting”4 or as other translations have “without anger and disputing.”5 As we mentioned earlier, prayer is powerful for one’s soul. Prayer offers a direct path of communication with the Almighty Provider. By giving him concerns, worries, aspirations, and desires, a disciple can have a spirit of peace in a world of turmoil. May we increase in our ability to prayer for everyone and may the LORD bless us with an even greater ability to pray without anger or argument.
1. “Paul’s Thoughts about Prayer.” I Timothy 2.1-2, NASB.
2. “interceded.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 24 Jun. 2009. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/interceded.
3. “Some of Jesus’ Teachings about Prayer.” Matthew 5.44b, NASB.
4. “How to Pray.” I Timothy 2.8b, KJV.
5. “How to Pray.” I Timothy 2.8b, NIV.