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The priorities of prayer

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A noted clergyman was asked by a colleague why the loud, vehement praying of his earlier days had given way to a more quiet, persuasive manner of speech. The man laughed. “When I was young,” he said, “I thought it was the thunder that killed people, but when I grew … More

Prayer
From his concerns about false teachers Paul turned to matters relating to the conduct of the church. He began with what he considered most important: prayer. What often comes last in the Church’s priorities should actually come first. Paul explains the different things that should be included in prayers, who should be included in the prayers and the results of such praying. He emphasizes the fact that thanksgiving (v. 1) should have a prominent place in the Church’s prayer life.

The object of our prayer is to be for all men (vv. 1-2) and the reason is that they might be saved (vv. 3-4). Although Paul did not specify here the content of these prayers he stresses that we should pray especially for the leaders of civil government (v. 2). As in modern times, it seems that some in the Ephesian Church were prepared to question the validity of a prayer for the salvation of all men. The reason this prayer is pleasing to God is that it is a prayer according to his will (I John 5:14). God desires that no one perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Paul points out these unquestioned truths of the gospel: (1) There is only one God (v. 5). (2) There is only one way to approach Him and that is through the man Christ Jesus (v. 5). (3) This Jesus gave Himself to die on the cross for our sins (v. 6). The Ephesian church evidently felt that the gospel was only for Jews. Paul stresses the fact that he is called to be an apostle to the Gentiles and to take the gospel to the majority of the human race who the Jews had considered beyond hope (v. 7). He wants everyone to pray to God, free from anger and controversy (v. 8).


Application

If I have sin in my heart the Lord will not hear me (Psalm 66:18). When I pray I need to spend less time talking about myself and more time talking about God. I need to follow the example of David in the psalms, who knew how to adore and thank God.

I Timothy 2:1-8 (English Standard Version)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling....

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