August 18, 2017
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1 (NIV)
Paul is speaking about the place of prayer in public worship. When the congregation gathers, we are to bring requests, prayers and intercession with thanksgiving. This is increasingly out of fashion, but God has given this ministry to the church. If Christians do not pray for the world, who will?
A gospel-centered church is not ultimately about us, it is about the gospel. God our Savior wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2:3-4). When we gather, our worship must reflect God’s heart for the world.
Prayer for everyone clearly does not mean that we are to pray for each of the 7.5 billion people in the world. That’s impossible. Paul means “all kinds of people” not “every single person.”
Philip Ryken says, “The public prayers of the church should have a global perspective… They should include the great issues of the day and the vast nations of the world. Intercession should be made for renewal, revival and reformation in the church. Prayer should be offered for missionaries, evangelists, and church planters. The sufferings of the persecuted church and the desperation of unsaved humanity should be brought weekly before the throne of grace.”
Where churches give up on public intercessory prayer, it is usually for one of two reasons. Either the pastors give up or the people don’t care. But Paul says, “I urge, then, first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”
Thank God for this ministry of prayer he has given to the church. Ask God to give you greater anticipation and engagement in this time at your church.