Worship and Prayer
I Tim 2:1-7
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
In I Tim so far we have seen Paul deal with some foundational issues in the church through his instructions to Timothy. I think we can rightly view chapter one as the introduction to the book.
Paul has already addressed opposing false teachers (teaching), using the Old Testament correctly and the Gospel. Because of Christ’s work in fulfilling the law, there has been a fundamental change in the foundation of our relationship with God. The need to sacrifice is gone. We recognize Jesus as the real Savior whose shadow was the Exodus. The Gospel has replaced the law as the lens through which we see the world. And salvation is completed. (This does not mean that the law and the gospel are in conflict with one another! How can you be in conflict with your shadow!?)
Paul is having Timothy speak to the nuts and bolts of corporate worship in the churches where he is serving. We will see many issues raised in the rest of the book that apply to this. Indeed much of the New Testament is lived right here. Because Christianity is “Jewish” the conflict between the necessity of doing things “in a strictly Jewish way”
I Tim 3: 14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household
Prayer, Men and Women in the church. Elders and Deacons. Slaves and Masters, Treatment of the truly needy (widows) and so on.
In chapter 2 here we have instructions for corporate worship. And Paul starts with prayer:
- Pray for All People
We have recently looked at Jesus’ teaching on prayer. In Matt 5 Jesus says we are to go to a private place and pray in private. But in this context, we are talking about corporate prayer, or prayer in corporate worship. And corporate worship is focused in a particular way, it is focused toward the group. So, we pray for all people because our focus is outward in corporate worship.
- Focus outward in corporate worship
When we come together on Sunday mornings, what is the purpose of our corporate worship? Do we think about what we get? Well, certainly, we would like to meet with God and receive life from interacting with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the music, words of the songs, prayer, Scripture reading and the sermon to speak life to us. And we are all important as individuals. But look at the focus of prayer Paul mentions here. And this is similar to I Cor 11-14 as well which focuses on corporate worship. The whole body is the focus! God’s plans in the world are the focus.
As we have stated previously, our church vision is to help people follow Jesus Christ. That includes ourselves or else what is the point, but in this room, we are about each other. I am here to encourage you to follow Jesus Christ and together we are to call to our culture to follow Jesus Christ as well. If my focus is outward, then when I see you experiencing the presence and power of God, I am encouraged. And it raises my expectations for what God wants to do in my life.
Behold I stand at the door and knock… I will come in and fellowship with you!
So, we are thinking about more than ourselves in corporate worship.
- Prayer takes different forms
Petition, Prayers, Intercession, Thanksgiving
Paul mentions different words for prayer, and while some of this is because of emphasis, it is also true that we pray about different things and in different ways.
What are we to make of these different words for prayer? I think we need to see them as different expressions of involvement in the lives of others through prayer.
Petition: asking for something.
Prayers, talking about it with God.
Intercession, to continue to go between, to search out an issue, to seek wisdom, guidance and understanding for another.
Thanksgiving: to express gratitude to God on behalf of another person.
Think about people in our congregation and tell God you are thankful for them. This is something that is very easy for me.
- Pray for Those in Authority
Beyond just praying for “all people” Paul moves on to praying for people who are in positions of authority in our lives. Why mention this? Let’s consider the Roman context for a minute. Or, the Pauline context beginning late in the book of Acts. Religious authorities. Civil authorities, Economic authorities, Family authorities
- So we might live peaceful, quiet lives
What are the authorities in our lives?
How does bad authority act?
How should we pray that authorities act?
How well do we do at this? I have to say that I do not model this very well. Our culture gives us a real say in being the authority. But we need to remember to pray.
Love your enemies and pray for those that despitefully use you.
Will you make a commitment with me to pray for those in authority over you every day during the month of February?
President, Governor, all Legislators, all judges. Bosses at work, Teachers at school, parents, church elders.
- So we might have religious freedom
If we are going to act as rebels, then we should expect to be treated as such.
Jesus says to Pilate at His trial:
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Crackdown on Chinese Christian Churches. China is putting out a governmentally sponsored version of the Bible.
Religious false prophets
Economic harlots (why call Babylon a harlot? Because people will do anything for money and money can’t buy love).
So pray for those in authority, do not fight with them, and do not despair either, because God is at work in your lives and in your world!
Pray that they will leave you alone to worship God freely and express your love for God and others.
- This pleases God
God and authority is an interesting topic. There is much in the Bible about authority as it relates to God. And we like it as long as it does not cause us trouble, but when it does, then it is a real challenge.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
III. God Wants all to Come to Him
And so we pray in this way.
- Including those in authority
I think the implication is that the gospel is easier to spread during peaceful times.
Jesus was born during the Pax Romana.
Paul’s conversation with Herod and Felix
Emporer Constantine had a big impact on the church being at peace!
- One God and one mediator
Only one God
Only one mediator between God and man
What does this mean about the priesthood? It means that the old testament priest are a copy, a shadow of the reality of Jesus’ priesthood! He acts as our mediator. We cannot come into God’s presence because of our sin. We cannot even present our own sacrifices. But Jesus can, has and does mediate our relationship with God!
- Only one can pay our ransom
II Cor 5:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.