We are doing a series called “God Alive Church” – A journey through 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.
Last Sunday we ended on 1 Timothy chapter one and learned how important it is to hold on to our faith and have a good conscience to protect God’s promises and the prophecies made over our lives.
In 1 Timothy 1:18-19 Timothy is instructed by Paul to wage the good warfare holding faith and a good conscience. Paul deliberately uses a military language to remind us that it’s a war that we are fighting to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives and also to protect the gospel message.
Just as it is in a war – As a child of God no matter where we are in life, God desires a single minded focus from his children – And the goal is to glorify Him.
And to fulfill that goal we need to be doing something – and that something is so simple to do but we often fail because the devil is constantly putting obstacles and distractions in way and we fail to see the simplicity of the gospel and its power to transform our lives.
Let me give an example – A lot of times the enemy makes us look so ugly because of our sinfulness, failures and inability to relate with God and the church, he make us think that all other Christians are better than us.
But if we’ve truly understood the gospel than we should know that in comparison to God’s standard of holiness we all are worst of sinners, no matter whether I’m the pastor of the church or some saint who’s given away everything to become a godly man. Imagine Paul the Apostle of Jesus in 1 Timothy 1:15 calls himself the chief of all sinners.
The grace of God views all of us in the same manner.
What matters is how each individual respond to it.
If our response to this glorious gospel is positive than it will set us free – give clarity to our thoughts and bring us out of our miserable position.
But, If our response is negative where we are continuously listening to all the lies that the devil presents us than we will never see the victories God has in stored for us.
I believe today’s passage from 1 Timothy 2:1-2 is a good reminded to us on what a good response looks like when we hit a difficult spot in life.
In 1 Timothy 1 Paul points out to the sad state of the church and the sad state of the people in the church. He mentions how people are devoting themselves to myths and endless genealogies, promoting speculations instead of trusting God & serving Him.
People having vain and fruitless discussions leading them nowhere. Listening and teaching a different doctrine other than the true doctrine of the Gospel of Christ and making a shipwreck of their faith.
He also reminds them of the simple and the glorious gospel in verses 12 to 17. He writes in verse 15 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
After reminding them of their sad state and the truth of the Gospel, in chapter 2 he begins by saying “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
What Paul is saying is that our first response when we hit a difficult situation in life, whether in church or in our personal lives should always be Prayer & Thanksgiving.
Our First Response.
In Philippians 4:6 Paul is writing again to the church in Philippi and says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Sadly, our very first response is always either self-pity, or judgmental. Prayer is always the last resort for us. But what Paul is saying here is that Prayer and Thanksgiving should always be our first resort.
Even though Paul is upset with the fact that people are making a shipwreck of their faith, following a wrong doctrine and talking rubbish in the church. His first reaction before dealing with it is to go on his knees and pray for them.
We too are living in times where wrong doctrine is corrupting the church, people use their position to speak whatever they want about God and the church – Some leaders have become corrupt and make unwise decisions whether in church or in the government – And we all have our own opinions about what is right and what is wrong.
The question I want to ask is how do we deal with it in our hearts? Is our very first reaction talking about them badly in front of others, pointing their mistakes and making fun of them? Or is it a genuine love that leads us to first go on your knees and pray for them.
I think it’s best to refrain from pointing fingers at others until you have genuinely spent time praying for them. Remember, that in comparison to God’s standard of holiness we are equally bad as the brother or the leader we are talking about even if we have all the checkbox clicked right. We might have got all the doctrine and theological framework right but we still are the worst of sinners and desperately in need of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness.
If God had to react in his anger and deal with us as our sins deserve we will all be dead by now. Not just those bad politicians or dishonest leaders – We all sitting here deserve the same punishment.
And therefore Paul writes “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.”
Here’s why Paul is urging us to pray first.
1. When we pray the peace of God & His understanding guards our hearts & minds.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It is so easy for us to lose our peace and react in anger, self-pity or a heated disagreement when we face a difficult situation in our lives, whether it is at home with our wife and children, or it is at work with our boss and colleagues or in church with the leaders of fellow brothers and sisters.
Think of how wisely the Devil distorts our understanding of the gospel, our identity, the fallen state of mankind and the grace and mercy of God corrupting our hearts and minds.
We forget Romans 14:1 which says “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”
We forget 1 John 1:9 which says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
When we pray – it allow the peace of God and his understanding to guard our hearts and minds. Pray leads us to see our own sinfulness of the heart and sets the tone right with the right understanding of the gospel.
2. When we pray God gives us the right wisdom to deal with our circumstances and people.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord”
The tendency of our heart is always to apply our wisdom to sort the differences, address the difficult circumstances and deal with the people in our own strength and understanding even though we know that the bible teaches us in Proverbs 3:5 not to lean on our own understanding but rather trust in the Lord.
In Ephesians 6:12 Paul writes “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
All our battles are spiritual and therefore we need to go to God in pray and ask for his wisdom who gives generously to all without reproach.
In 1Timothy 2:1 Paul urges us to first pray is because he knows God will give us the right wisdom to deal with our circumstances.
We may be in a situation where we are trying to fight our battles on our own strength – Trying to prove our position right at our workplace, trying to put across our point of view to another believer, trying to manipulate others with our words to get our thing done.
Instead of trying all these we simply have to God in prayer and ask and believe that he will give us the right wisdom to deal with people and situations.
3. When we pray God performs miracle
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”
“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. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
If we think we are in a situation where only a miracle can save us then it will only happen when we go on our knees and pray to God.
I deliberately used these two verses to remind you that God has control over everything; he can go to the extent of even shaking the earth and its foundations to perform a miracle for his children. Just as he is able to shake the foundations of the prison he is able to shake the foundations of your workplace, foundations of your home.
He is a God who is able to open the closed doors, close the open doors.
Yes, he is able to change people hearts and perform a miracle in each other’s lives but only when we are sincerely praying and plead with God.
Yes, he is able to change the political environment of our nation and others nations.
And there is only one reason why won’t see those miracles happen
James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
We need to reason with ourselves and ask what is it that we are asking and why is it that we are asking. Is it with a wrong motive? Is it to spend on our won pleasures? Is it to feed our self-ego?
In that case our prayer won’t be answered.
Our prayers should be sincere, pleasing to God and in accordance with his word and his purpose. If God has chosen a particular leader because that fits his overall purpose of bringing the nations to him than we are nobody to question that. All we can do is pray for peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness as Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2.
4. When we pray God brings healing & deliverance
“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. “
“And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
God not only heals the physically sick but he also heals our broken hearts, our disfigured, distorted and good for nothing lives. But it happens when we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another.
Remember, we can never win our battles in isolation – We need our brothers and sisters to stand with us and pray for our broken lives, broken hearts, sinful patterns, bad habits etc
James 5:16 says The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. A righteous man is not someone who is righteous in their own strength but it is someone who understood the gospel rightly. It is someone who’ve understood Romans 3:22 which says “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
Deliverance is not just deliverance from evil spirits but deliverance from sin, from sin patterns, from anxiety, from depression, from lack of faith, for feelings of failure, from hopelessness, from a weak conscience, from anger issues etc.
God promises us saying if we call upon him in the day of trouble he will deliver us and we will glorify him.
In the light of what we heard today here’s some quick applications for us to take home
No 1. Let’s pray at all times – in good times, in bad times, in happy times in sad times, in lack in abundance, in success in failure, for ourselves for our family, for our brothers for our sisters, for our leaders, for our collegues etc
No 2. Let’s refrain from talking about anyone or anything uncles we have genuinely prayed for that person or for that situation
No 3. Let’s connect and be honest with one another, sharing our struggles, confessing our sins so that we know what to pray for and how to encourage each other.