An Often Overlooked Opportunity

Maria I. MorganBible Studies, Blog Archive

An Often Overlooked Opportunity

How would you describe the Bible? It’s a rich book that spans several decades and includes a whole host of interesting people. It’s almost impossible to give a concise description.

Throughout Scripture, we see a foreshadowing of the gospel. Man’s sin broke his fellowship with God, but God loved him so much, He made a way for the relationship to be restored. The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made in the New Testament. His death, burial, and resurrection is the gospel.

This gospel theme is easy to spot in 1 Timothy. Paul encouraged Timothy to beware of and confront those who were teaching anything other than this message. Then he went on to highlight how God’s abundant grace and mercy had transformed him from the chief of sinners to an apostle greatly used by his Savior.

A lot of times when I think of being used by God I think of things like: teaching a Bible class, singing in a choir, or going on a mission trip. You too? Today we’re going to discover an opportunity to participate in God’s work that we often overlook – the call to pray.

Prayer defined

Prayer is important.

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So what is prayer? It’s talking with God and often includes “petition, entreaty, supplication, thanksgiving, praise, hymns, and lament,” according to The Lexham Bible Dictionary. In his letter to young pastor Timothy, Paul urged him to pray for “all men.” (1 Timothy 2:1) Notice this wasn’t a casual request. Paul urged (strongly advised) Timothy to pray.

Timothy was to pray for everyone. This included kings, and all those who were in authority. (1 Timothy 2:2) Sometimes that’s difficult to do when you don’t agree with those who are making the rules. But in Paul and Timothy’s day it had to be even harder. Nero was emperor at the time. And he wasn’t the nicest guy.

My study Bible describes life as a believer under Nero’s rule: “Nero was a notoriously cruel ruler. He needed a scapegoat for the great fire that destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64, so to take the focus off himself, he blamed the Roman Christians. Persecution erupted throughout the Roman Empire. Not only were Christians denied certain privileges in society, some were even publicly butchered, burned, or fed to animals.”

In addition to praying for these brutal rulers, Paul told Timothy to pray for the false teachers who were confusing the believers. The very ones who were hindering his ministry.

Pray according to God’s will

It's easy to confuse praying according to God's will with praying according to my will.

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If I’m not careful, I begin praying for things that will keep me comfortable, rather than things that will draw me closer to the Lord and help me serve Him. Notice how Paul draws Timothy’s attention back to the purpose for which he’s praying for these leaders:

Who (God) will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:4, KJV, word in parentheses mine

Did you recognize the gospel in that verse? Paul wanted Timothy to cry out to God for the salvation of those who didn’t know Christ. And he goes on to point to Christ as the One who reconciled man to Holy God:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.1 Timothy 2:5-6

Prayer is powerful

I have no doubt Paul’s letter to Timothy encouraged him to pray. Although our situation may be different, we have the same opportunity today. The Lord wants us to intercede for the salvation of those who haven’t put their faith in Him – including relatives, neighbors, and even those in government. We are invited to come to Him knowing that He will answer according to His will:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.James 5:16b

Prayer keeps us close to our Heavenly Father – acknowledging that only He can soften a heart and bring man to salvation. What a powerful tool we’ve been given.

Your turn

How would you evaluate your prayer life? What needs to change? Let’s talk about it! Share your thoughts here in the comments below then visit the Facebook page for further discussion.

Can I pray for you?

Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me that prayer is important. Forgive me when I get busy 'doing' things for You, and forget to spend time talking to You. Help me desire Your will over my comfort. Give me a heart of compassion for the lost and help me pray for their salvation. Thank you for the gift of prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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