1 Timothy 2:1-7
Have you ever wondered for what you should pray? If so, today’s Scripture will give you some guidelines and help you realize the benefits of prayer.
Paul used a variety of terms for our conversations with God: requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. While these are all slightly different, they all touch on the elements of dialogue, a back-and-forth conversation. God invites us to take all of our concerns to Him. When we do, we find the act of praying gives benefits.
Prayer Benefits Society
In the current atmosphere of political polarization, praying for people in governmental positions (“kings and all those in authority”) might sound difficult; but what if people spent less time attacking and more time praying? Would our communities and nation be different?
There is a time and place to hold elected officials accountable, but there also is a time to hold them up and pray for their wellbeing. The police chief in a small town in Florida recently said he could not do his job if the Christians in town didn’t pray for him and his officers.
Prayer Helps Individuals
Prayer not only benefits society, but also helps individuals. Those most helped are the ones who do the praying. Paul said that when we pray, we “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (v. 2). Praying helps center our minds and focus on what is most important in life.
One author wrote, “There is an ancient Roman word, precarious. It originally meant “obtained by prayer or begging.” Today, something that is dependent on anything uncertain is called precarious. That is what some people think prayer is—a last resort; a beggar’s choice; a weakling’s fall-back. For all of the misunderstandings and deliberate attacks on prayer, one fact is certain—people pray.”1
Prayer helps us individually by showing us what peace and godliness is like.
Prayer Assists the Church
Prayer is useful in society and to individuals. It also assists the church by helping people understand the gospel and become part of the church. When Christians pray, other people will get to know God “who wants all men to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth” (v. 4).
An attraction in Edinburgh, Scotland, has been drawing in the curious for more than a century. It is the Camera Obscura. This device is a combination pinhole camera and periscope. The combination of mirrors and lenses allows visitors inside the building to see a 360-degree view of the city, but it is miniaturized. While visiting there in 2002, I had the opportunity to feel our perceptions challenged and stretched.
The image is controlled by an operator who moves the lens located in a tower in a complete circle. The view is then projected onto a table in a darkened room. I was amazed to see people walking by and cars and buses puttering down the road in real time. The astounding thing is that each image is in miniature. People look to be about 3 inches tall but are perfectly proportional. The operator asked if I would like to pick up a passerby, and I agreed. I put my hand down on the table palm up, and she adjusted the image so a person stood in my hand! As I slowly raised my hand, the operator adjusted the image so I had a 3-inch man perfectly resting in my palm.
I remembered the old gospel song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” That song describes a loving Father who cradles individuals, families and the entire world in His hands. That is a great image of care, protection and love. Prayer puts the world into the hands of God. Although I felt silly later, I remember I laid the guest in my hand back onto the table gently. I couldn’t bear to let him fall. Would God do otherwise?
Live on the wings of prayer. Society, the church and you will benefit.
1 Don Aycock, Prayer 101: Learning to Talk with God. (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2007), page 1.