If there's one thing the church needs, it's more prayer. It's an obvious statement perhaps but it's also one that periodically needs repeated because we have quite a habit of forgetting that it is what God desires. Even more, it's what we NEED.
In First Timothy 2:1-7 we learned that God is pleased with prayer because it leads to men being saved which is his goal; the only fitting response then is that the men in every place will pray without "Posturing". God wants praying men in His church so that His purposes can be accomplished.
Look with me at the eighth verse of our chapter today as we learn how to pray in church.
<Read 1 Timothy 2:8>
I want to share with you today Four Principles of prayer in the church, the first of which is PEOPLE.
Paul begins with "therefore I want the men…"
There are two words to communicate desire, the first is emotional the second is well reasoned. This is the second word; Paul has determined that the church will reach its goals through praying men. Having decided this then Paul wants us to pray, not the mumbly effortless prayers of adolescence but the hard wrestling prayers that take all of our concentration and effort.1
And in this context, this isn't just for anyone – this is a man's job. Once again, in the New Testament language there are two words for men. One is able to be translated as mankind in general and the second refers to men as opposed to women. It is this second word which Paul uses.
Elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 11 Paul allows women to pray in church as long as they are clearly under the authority of their husbands, here He's calling for men to pray. So in the broader context of scripture Paul doesn't exclude women from praying in the church service, but what he does here is call on the men to take the role of leadership given to them and use it for the furthering of the gospel.
"Paul wished to encourage the male religious leadership to take a lead in public prayer. The point is not that men only should pray but rather that everywhere the church of Jesus Christ exists there should be men who pray." This is not to the exclusion of women praying, but it is a call focused upon the men leading the church."2
In the more direct context, Paul is careful to state that it is the men, and not merely everyone that he wants to pray in the service of the church – it is categorically the men.
Men, God is calling you to take on the hard challenge of praying like you mean it. Put down the remote and pray with your families. Step out of the pew and pray in public. As we saw in the last several verses – prayer comes in all forms and it includes all people. That is a tall order, and we need more than a five minute prayer life. We need to be like Jacob in the book of Genesis, wrestling with God through the night in order to obtain his blessings upon us, upon our families, upon our church, upon our country and on the world.
Are you ready to take the challenge men? In the next chapter we're going to get into the strict requirements of leadership in the church; so it's only natural that he would turn to prayer now, before he ever get's there because it is in the prayer closet that God's leaders are made.
When Moses would go out to the tent of meeting to meet with God face to face his servant Joshua would go out there with him, but even when Moses would leave, Joshua would remain in that tent and in God's presence (Exodus 33:11).
It's not just the people it's also the Place
Since Paul is talking specifically about our behavior in houses of worship (cref. 3:15) "in every place" must by necessity mean the church. Every church location is supposed to be a house of prayer. Here at fame, prayer should be the norm. And praying men should be the backbone of this church.
Every Sunday there is a time set apart at 8:45 for prayer in the room behind the baptistery. It's not limited to leadership in the church or anything of that sort, it is a pre-arranged time to fuel the Sunday ministry with prayer. Anyone that wants to pray during that time is welcome.
Wednesday nights we have prayer meeting in the fellowship hall. It's probably one of the spiritually most important and physically least attended events in the church, and not just our church but every church of which I'm aware.
Remember Jesus' words, "It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer…"3
He says "pray lifting Holy Hands" The early Christians adopted their methods of praying from the Synagogues. Today we pray with heads bowed and eyes closed and hands folded – but the early Christians would stand and lift their hands to heaven palms turned upward.4
It's not that our hands act like a satellite dish, kind of sending and receiving signals from God somewhere out there in outer space. Raise them high and you get good reception, cup them together and you get static. No, it's not like that. The particular posture mentioned is certainly not mandatory in the sense that this is the only style of praying available to us because throughout scripture we see everything from
Standing: Gen. 18:22; I Sam. 1:26; Matt. 6:5; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11; Luke 18:13.
Hands Spread Out or/and Lifted Heavenward: Ex. 9:29; Ex. 17:11, 12; I Kings 8:22; Neh. 8:6; Psalm 63:4; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 141:2; Is. 1:15; Lam. 2:19; Lam. 3:41; Hab. 3:10; Luke 24:50; I Tim. 2:8; James 4:8.
Bowing the Head: Gen. 24:48 (cf. verse 13); Ex. 12:27; II Chron. 29:30; Luke 24:5.
The Lifting Heavenward of the Eyes: Psalm 25:15; Psalm 121:1; Psalm 123:1, 2; Psalm 141:8; Psalm 145:15; John 11:41; John 17:1; cf. Dan. 9:3; Acts 8:55.
Kneeling: II Chron. 6:13; Psalm 95:6; Is. 45:23; Dan. 6:10; Matt. 17:14; Mark 1:40; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Eph. 3:14.
Falling Down with the Face Upon the Ground: Gen. 17:3; Gen. 24:26; Num. 14:5, 13; Num. 16:4, 22, 45; Num. 22:13, 34; Deut. 9:18, 25, 26; Jos. 5:14; Judg. 13:20; Neh. 8:6; Ezek. 1:28; Ezek. 3:23; Ezek. 9:8; Ezek. 11:13; Ezek. 43:3; Ezek. 44:4; Dan. 8:17; Matt. 26:39; Mark 7:25; Mark 14:35; Luke 5:12; Luke 17:16; Rev. 1:17; Rev. 11:16.
Bowing with the face between the knees: I Kings 18:42 5
What's the intent of all of these? Reverence. Dependence. Awe. Submission. Hope. Adoration. Repentance. All of these and so much more. The issue isn't the posture of the body but the posture of the soul it is intended to reflect. But I say why not try a different posture and see how it affects your conversation.
What is the importance of lifting Holy Hands? When a sacrifice was made it was lifted towards God. Holy Sacrifices are the only sacrifices acceptable to God. This is why Paul says that we men need to be lifting "Holy hands, without wrath and dissension".
We lift up holy hands in prayer. Holy hands is the type of language used to describe the priesthood which had been consecrated / set apart and made holy for God's purpose. Like the posture it's not the hands themselves where the real issue lies, it's the actions of life, the works we do which are symbolized by the hands which do so much work.
See Psalm 24:3, 4, is there unconfessed sin or unrepented sin in your life? The Lord will not hear your prayers until the prayer you pray is one of repentance. Sin towards God will prohibit your prayers, and so also will sin towards other men...
Notice that the Apostle says pray without wrath and then quickly adds Dissension. The difference between the two is intended to be comprehensive. The word "Wrath" or "anger" (NIV) here is external and the word "Dissension" or "Disputing" is internal. In other words when we pray, we must pray without anger pouring out in our visible lives and we must also pray without anger quietly brewing in our hearts (Psalm 66:18 if I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear).
Perhaps, Gentlemen this is why Peter warns us not to be harsh with our wives lest our prayers be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
Men in public worship are urged to lift holy hands without anger or quarreling. To lift holy hands is to pray sincerely, in a way congruent with one's behavior, without hypocrisy, single-mindedly, with a pure heart focused upon the one thing needful-attentiveness to the will of God.6
1 The words "I will" are boulomai (βουλομαι), speaking of a desire which proceeds from the reason, as against thelo (?e??), a desire which originates with the emotions. Wuest, Kenneth S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English Reader, 1 Ti 2:8. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, c1984.
2 Oden, Thomas C. First and Second Timothy and Titus. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching, Page 91. Louisville: J. Knox Press, 1989.
3 Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46
4 Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al.;. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary., 1 Ti 2:8. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.
5 Heavily Borrowed from: Hendriksen, William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Vol. 4, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles. Accompanying biblical text is author's translation. New Testament Commentary, Page 103. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001.
6 Oden, Thomas C. First and Second Timothy and Titus. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching, Page 91. Louisville: J. Knox Press, 1989.