2015 Sermon Series
- September 6, 2015
Prayer for the Lost in Authority.
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul moves from philosophy to practical instruction for Timothy and the Ephesian churches. What would you say is the most important thing for a new church? Paul says the number-one priority for the church is prayer, with a primarily evangelistic focus. Our responsibility to the state is to pray for the salvation of our leaders.
This prayer is the first on Paul's list of "Do's and Don'ts" for the church. Remember the context: Paul is writing to a church that is anxious because of persecution and false teaching. His instructions are spiritually therapeutic to settle the flock. And the first step is to pray for leaders outside the church. This keeps the believers' focus on their primary purpose. The best way to avoid in-fighting is outreach.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul uses four synonyms highlighting different aspects of prayer:
Entreaties or Supplications
This word refers to asking for someone's immediate felt needs. The most desperate need of anyone, including our leaders, is salvation. We come before God to beg Him to save those in authority over us.
This general word means addressing God as deity. Spiritual needs are always present. Only God can persuade our leaders to do right morally and ethically.
Petitions or Intercessions
The meaning of this word is to "fall in" with God, to desire His presence. It speaks of an interview with one party on the behalf of others' interests. It is not primarily about us, but what God can do. Only through our prayers will moral change come. If change doesn't happen, it's because we're not praying.
The moral state of our country is the church's responsibility through prayer. If the average prayer time of a pastor in our country is 5 minutes a day, what must his people's prayer lives look like? It's no wonder we're seeing a moral decline.
Thanking our political leaders can seem quite a difficult task. But God put these prayers in a purposeful order. We pray for the salvation of our leaders, and for moral decisions in the meantime, on behalf of others. Then we are in the right mindset to find something to be thankful for.
Even the most spiritually dark leaders can demonstrate good by God's common grace. Just think: Paul wrote this instruction under the rule of Roman emperor Nero! In a dark culture, we have the opportunity to give answers to spiritual questions. Prayer reminds us that we are dispossessed citizens of another, better country (Philippians 3:20-21).
True saints are effervescing gratitude no matter the situation. A saint who's praying this way will not be a snarly, bitter, sourpuss Christian. As we worship, confess, and pray like this, we will get up from our knees more joyful than when we knelt down.
In future weeks, we will look through the outline of Paul's instruction on prayer in 1 Timothy 2:1-7:
- How is your prayer life? Do you place a high priority on praying for our government leaders? Now that you know its importance, how can you incorporate this into your regular prayer habits?
- Practice going through each of the aspects of prayer above: pray for the salvation of our leaders, and for moral decisions in the meantime, on behalf of others. Then find something to be thankful for in our country, state, and local government.
Tools for Further Study
A Hymn to Encourage: "To You Alone" by Fred and Ruth Coleman
Let us join our hearts together and give thanks in one accord.
We would glorify the Father and give praise to Christ, our Lord.
Oh indwelling Holy Spirit, guide our thoughts and tongues we pray,
For our pride and selfish vanity too often cloud our praise.
To You alone we sing today;
To You alone our prayers we raise.
To You alone we give the glory,
For You alone, Lord, are worthy of our praise.
O, what joy there is in knowing Jesus Christ is Lord of all,
That each step in my life's journey is in answer to His call.
In the cheerful meditation that His blood has ransomed me,
I find hope and reassurance His plan is best for me.