If we take 1 Timothy 3:15, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God as the statement of purpose for first Timothy than we have at the outset a planned destination of study; namely searching through First Timothy to determine what our "church experience" should look like.
In the first chapter we discovered the foundation of Pastoral Authority Grounded in Good Christology as well as the necessity of pastoral Longevity to the health of the church. Moving from that point we established the goal of church teaching balanced against the proper use of the Old Testament Law. And the chapter ends with the application of that church teaching resulting in the centrality of the gospel and worship for what God has done in saving those who trust in Christ Jesus as their Sacrifice, Savior and Lord.
Having established all of that as the foundation we move into the second chapter of first Timothy and we immediately come up to what Paul considers the first directive in the terms of the most important activities of the church; and it should come as no surprise to anyone that his directive is prayer.
Now, Somehow I know what happens whenever the topic of prayer is mentioned. Almost everyone in here starts to think the way I do "I don't pray enough, and I don't know if I can change" becomes the predominant thought pattern in here.
But I want us to step away from that for a moment and to recognize that Prayer is not a requirement, it's a privilege as we who are small and powerless open our mouths to speak and immediately find ourselves ushered into the presence of the Almighty God who is not only eager to hear our conversation with him but is ever more eager to actually do something about our conversation with him.
I want you to notice that I have intentionally refrained from using the word Prayer just then because as a word "Prayer" has been relegated to strictly religious conversation and by and large hasn't got much meaning associated with it today.
There was a time when Prayer meant "conversing with or requesting something of someone who had the power to grant your needs" But it has long since fallen out of common use for anyone but people of religion.
There was a time – probably flavored by religion – but a time when the phrase, "Mother I pray that you will give me a cookie"¦" might have been understood as something of a common phrase. Nowadays kids just say, "Can I have a cookie Mom?"
So this morning when I talk about a Call to prayer, let's change that to A Call to Conversation. Of course in doing that we can't get away from the religious language of prayer completely and I'm not certain we have to but I want us to stop thinking about "prayer" as something we have to do, and to start looking at conversing with God as a privilege and joy that we get to do.
If the church is going to receive a general list of duties it has to begin as it does here in 1 Timothy 2:1 with a broad instruction to pray. Never are we deeper in relationship with God than when we are talking with Him. Just as there are lots of ways for couples and friends to converse in their relationship there are lots of ways for us to talk to God.
Paul acknowledges this in Ephesians 6:18 "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints"¦." Notice that Paul says "With all prayer"¦" that is, using every method of talking to God.
1 Timothy 2:1 introduces four types of conversation with God But take a look first at the WHO before We Get to the HOW
WHO to talk to God about.
Look at who we're supposed to pray for as we talk to God. "I urge that (all types of prayers) be made on behalf of all men, For kings and all who are in authority"¦"
I'm fairly certain Paul doesn't mean that we are required to get out the phone book and start praying. The world's population is something around 6.5 Billion people. That would make your prayer list significantly long and frankly impossible. The point isn't necessarily praying for each person but rather that no-one is to be excluded. When we get down to the why in a few moments it becomes clear that if the offer of salvation should be to all, than so also the conversations we have with God shouldn't be limited to anyone either.
In short we're supposed to pray for everyone. No body is to be left behind. If you ever sit down to pray for a few moments and you can't think of what to pray for we'll deal with that in a minute but try thinking about world leaders, local leaders and your next door neighbor. You'll have more than enough to talk about, and chances are pretty good every name that comes to mind will come with some ready made prayer requests.
But prayer requests aren't all. Take a look at the four words Paul uses to describe prayer here and determine "How to talk to God"
HOW To Talk To God.
Paul uses four terms here to describe conversation with God. It's not so much that Paul is saying "These are the four ways you can talk to God" but rather he's trying to cover the entire spectrum. We don't limit ourselves to four kinds of dialog among friends but we do sometimes tend to limit ourselves to just one kind of dialog with God.
First he says Entreaties in the NASB or Requests in the NIV the Greek word is (DE-AYSIS). And we might think of this as the "Grocery lists prayers" The original meaning of the word stems from the idea of need or lack and out of that evolved into a general term for prayer in the sense of "an urgent request based upon need. This is where real and specific requests are made to God.
We kind of major on this from time to time but it's perfectly legitimate way to talk with God. He has told us in James 4 "We have not because we ask not." So don't ever feel ashamed to share a need with God. Tell him what's needed in your life or in the lives of others and ask for his supply to fulfill those genuine needs.
Second he mentions simply prayers. Where as the first one is always associated with "real asking" this second word (PROS-EUKAY), is used merely to indicate prayer without referring to it's content. Think of this kind of prayer simply as a conversation. When's the last time you just sighed and started out saying, "God I need to talk to you about something"¦" Sometimes you know what you need and other times you don't even understand the need.
This is the kind of praying you do when you just need to talk to someone who will listen.
The third method of talking with God is called intercessions, it comes from another word (ENTEUXAIS). It literally means "To encounter" or "To meet with" The idea being that You and God are going to meet in order to discuss someone. This is a stand in the gap conversation. You know someone living outside of God's will? You know someone who needs a touch from God? You know someone too weak to come to God on their own? Or someone who just needs help? Then it's time to play the intercessor, get between God and them and be their advocate before the Lord. Intercession is definitely hard work; but necessary.
The Fourth and final word is (EUCHARISTIAS) Thanksgiving! Probably the most underused style of talking with God is just telling him thanks. We even established a holiday in November for just that purpose and we've turned it into a glut-fest instead.
Don't forget however, what God has done, and don't forget to give him thanks for it.
So now you've heard again how to talk to God, and you know who to talk to Him about, but what are we supposed to be seeking in all these prayers for other people?
WHAT To Talk To God about.
Look at what Paul says at the end of verse two is supposed to be the content of all this conversation. Pray that we'll lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. What's at issue isn't the selfish desire for a comfortable life of ease; but rather – if you look at the following context, a life free of both external and internal problems which would get in the way of spreading the gospel.
Our conversation with God should be bent in such a way so that the spread of the gospel is not hindered by the activities of men around us (be they kings or grocery clerks) and neither must the gospel be hindered by that secret life inside of each one of us which more than any other has the capacity to short-circuit the spread of the gospel. So that neither we nor the government nor anyone else will get in the way of the gospel's spread.