1Ti 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, (2) for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (3) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This passage of encouragement to Timothy has a lot to say to us too. Let’s look at a few simple things you can learn from this set of verses.
1. Prayer works. Paul makes several statements in other letters about prayer, in all of them, there is not an expression of doubt to the effectiveness of prayer. He even teaches us in 2 cor 12 that sometimes, the answer is ‘No”.
Of course, it helps to know what you are to pray for. I know in our country we have a large and well respected history of protest and demonstrations but how many in their demonstrating spend time in prayer for the leaders that they are protesting against? In addition, for what would you pray? Paul tells Timothy to pray that we have peaceful and quiet lives, lives that are godly and dignified.
I think that we often forget that our purpose in life is to promote the Kingdom of God. If we have quiet and peaceful lives, it makes it easy for us shine as servants of God and to spread the Gospel, which is the power of God for salvation.
2. Even though you may feel that it is distasteful, it is a pleasing thing to God. Not because God likes or wants leaders that are bad ones or wicked, or dicitorial but because we show our dependance on the One who is able to take care of us.
3. God wants everyone to be saved. This very clear statement which echoes throughout Scripture shows that God is not a capricious, vindictive God. He wants everyone to be saved. The fact that everyone will not be saved is not because of any desire on God’s part. One passage that we may overlook in regards to this idea comes from Matthew 25 in verse 34, the Lord welcomes the saints into Kingdom that was “prepared” for them. Yet in verse 41, the cursed ones are sent into a place “prepared for the devil and his angels”.
Two places, one prepared for the saints, the other for Satan. There is NO PLACE prepared for the lost. God didn’t make one for them. He wants all to be saved.
Lesson: Pray for our lives so that we can spread the Gospel and Live our lives so that we don’t become lost.
Jas 5:16-18 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (17) Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. (18) Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
If I am correct about my suggestion in the last post, then James’ use of Elijah here should encourage the activity of prayer and petitions and supplications to God. Elijah, who we know that God heard, who was taken up from this earth and did not die, was a man like us. We think of great men of faith and think “Oh for their faith” We shake our heads and feel we will not live up to their example.
So we elevate the prophets and do not just underplay their weaknesses but forget about them altogether. Elijah had his grand moments and no one can doubt that his contest on Mt. Carmel was a true mountain top experience. God answered his prayer at almost moment he began to pray and the whole nation could see that God, was indeed God. Then Elijah, upon receiving a death-threat from Jezebel, ran! So much for the great man of faith!
Do not let us not judge Elijah harshly, let us remember, he was a man like we are: Prone to the Mt. Everest top highs and the death valley lows. This should encourage us to follow more closely after his example of prayer, in which he was successful. The only one to not sin, Jesus , also took on our nature too and in his distress, he prayed. (Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.) In his example, we see the power of prayer for sure, but I think James uses Elijah because he was not sinless, yet he was heard.
James wants us to pray also. He also wants us to know that pray works. More than just our prayers, but also the prayers of others on our behalf.
The prayer of the righteous man has great power, James says. I would presume that James is considering that the one asking for the prayers is deep in the struggles of his own sin, trying to be righteous and needing the help of those who are. He confesses his need, humbles himself before God and those who are spiritual (Gal 6:1-2) lift up prayers for him, as well, I would suppose, for themselves so that they are not tempted too.
In all of this, I see the need for community. Not in a casual, see you for an hour on Sunday type of community, but a community were we get to know each other well enough to feel comfortable with confessing our sins. Those who do not feel as if they need the fellowship of believers (“I can worship God where I like”) forget the admonition to ‘not forsake the assembling of (our)selves together” (Heb 10:25) But those who quote 10:25, need to quote 10:24 also and balance it out. Verse 24 says we need to know one another well enough to encourage us to do good works.
There is much in the Bible on Prayer, we need to learn as the disciples did, how to pray. (Luke 11:1)