I have been meditating on 1 Timothy 2:1-7. In verse 4, Paul writes of God our saviour who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. But rather than giving that as a line in our theology, we are reminded that this was written by the man whose evangelism, church planting activities and tireless proclamation of the gospel had led him before Caesar’s tribunal once already, and would eventually be arrested by Rome once more which would cost him his life. The knowledge that it was God’s desire that all people be saved, and yet, as he would earlier write in Romans 1, that the wrath of God is now being revealed against human unrighteousness, set the course of Paul’s amazing life of unrelenting evangelism. It should do the same with us.
But what caught my eye in this reading of 1 Timothy 2:1-7, was verse 1. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” Now, in truth, Paul urges prayers for government officials that we may live a peaceful and quiet life, but his concern is not for personal safety and comfort. His concern is that as many as possible might be saved, and prayer for a peaceful government aids in the cause of evangelism.
And this has led me to think about my prayers, and how I might pray evangelistically. Clearly, 1 Timothy 2:1-7 has a great deal to teach all of us. Let me spell out 7 characteristics about effective evangelistic praying.
1. We need to pray with urgency. What else can be implied by the words, “who desires all men to be saved?”
2. We need to pray extensively. Verse 1 mentions supplication, which refers to making specific requests. This must mean that believers are called upon to pray on behalf of the specific needs for the lost, especially concentrating on their need for the gospel. Next Paul mentions prayers, which is a more general term. He must mean here that we do not forget to bring the lost before the throne room of our heavenly Father. Then he mentions intercession, meaning that we appeal to God on behalf of the lost. Since the lost have no covenant with God, and have no basis upon which their prayers are answered, we as believers must take on our priestly role and petition the throne of heaven on their behalf. Lastly Paul mentions thankfulness. Here he has in mind our thankfulness for those who do not know Christ. We are aware of God’s common grace given to all, and we do well to remember the grace that has been afforded to others, and to be grateful.
3. We need to pray broadly. The statement, “all people” demands that we go beyond praying for those lost people whom we personally know. Praying for the lost in our nation, and learning to understand the need for the gospel on a global scale, mandates that we have a missionary heart in our praying.
4. We need to pray specifically. Paul is more than aware of how government policies help and hinder the advancement of the gospel. To apply this specifically must mean that when Canadian Christians pray for those in high position, this must refer to our Prime Minister, Premiers, and members of both the house of commons, the Senate and the provincial legislations. We need to plead with God that the laws that are passed in our land seek to open more doors to gospel advancement.
How often do you pray evangelistically? Will you commit yourself to include these kinds of prayers in your daily devotions? Please join me as we commit never to be content until every single soul confesses Christ as Lord.