1 Timothy 2:1
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
I find it fascinating that Paul doesn’t just say pray for all men. Wouldn’t that suffice? Wouldn’t that be enough of a challenge all by itself? Many of us have a moderate prayer life (I am raising my hand) and have a tough enough time remembering who we are supposed to pray for day after day (I need to work on that). But here Paul exhorts us not only to pray for all men, put to give supplications, intercessions and the giving of thanks. He has just quadrupled our prayer life! What would happen if we all did that? This world would change, that’s what. Let’s take a closer look at each one of these things that Paul is exhorting us to do.
The word supplicate means to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly.
Supplication comes from the Greek word deésis. It means to entreat, pray or supplicate for someone’s needs. When you look at the word’s origins it indicates this prayer or entreaty is for a need that is urgent and heart-felt. This is not a prayer that is done flippantly or just in passing. This is a prayer that denotes an immediate need, like money being supplied before the electricity is turned off or that a sudden intense pain would go away. These are things we typically pray for, but the word used here should give us a sense of urgency even more than normal.
How intense are we when we make supplication? I have to admit that many times when someone comes with an immediate need, I will say a quick prayer and consider it done. I have done my duty. I have prayed for my friend, or fellow worker, or whoever it is. But a supplication doesn’t stop after a simple prayer, or even a longer prayer. A supplication doesn’t stop until we have exhausted all words and are worn out from praying. We may start praying while standing, but we end up on our knees in tears as we weep before the Lord and present our supplication. I have had a few times of prayer likes this, but not near as many as I should have.
The word prayer here is the Greek word proseuché which literally means prayer or a place of prayer. This is the type of prayer we pray most often. We bring our requests to the Lord with words that flow from our lips. This can be a prayer in our human tongue of in our heavenly language. For those of you not familiar with this, Paul talks about the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14. He also mentions praying with “groanings that cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). Many believe this is the gift of tongues given to the people who were in the upper room in Acts 2. I suggest you research this for yourself if you are not familiar with it.
There are many ways we can pray. There are many styles of prayer. I have done a lot of research into prayer over the years and even wrote a book about prayer. It was a book 30 years in the making. It was a study I started in 1990 and finished when I was undergoing cancer treatment. I always knew it would be a book and God gave me the time to get it all together. He has a purpose for everything. If you are interested in seeing a glimpse about the book, I have started blogging a few excerpts from the book on https://theaskprinciple.com. You can also buy a copy of “The Ask Principle” on the site or from Amazon.
Intercessions is the Greek word enteuxis which means to stand between God and someone else and seek God’s will for them so they will “hit the mark.” Isn’t that what we want for those around us? We want them to find the will of God for their lives, or for their situation. Many times, we pray for the solution we want which may not be what God wants. I would have liked my cancer to disappear before treatment and many people prayed that way. But God had a better plan and the results were amazing. I am even considering a career change because of what God has done.
When we pray for a sick person, we typically pray they will get well quickly. Perhaps we would be better to pray that God gives then strength until He is ready to heal them. When we pray for our relatives to get saved, perhaps we should pray that God sends someone to them to show them the way to salvation. When we pray for someone to be delivered, perhaps we should pray that God will keep them safe until He is ready to deliver them. If there is one thing I have learned it’s that God has His own timetable. We need to pray that God’s will be done in every situation. Not our will, God’s will.
Then Paul mentions giving of thanks. Do you find it hard to be thankful? Do you find it hard to find ways to be thankful for those people around you? Thankfulness is one of the key ways we can be at peace in our lives. There is ALWAYS something to give thanks for. If it’s sunny, give thanks for the sun. If it’s raining, thank God for the rain. If it’s heavy snow and winter, thank God that He promised spring would come. If you’re sick, thank God that He is your healer. If you are stuck and feel alone, be thankful you are not at the bottom of a sewer with the rats. If you are in the bottom of the sewer with the rats, be thankful you can still think enough to be thankful.
One fond memory I have from my younger years comes from my mom’s office. She was a church secretary at the First Congregational Church in West Boylston, a grand old church right in the center of town. On the wall in her office was a plaque that read “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes but then I met a man who had no feet.” This saying has stuck with me all my years. There is always someone in worse shape than we are. We should be thankful.
And we should give thanks for those around us. Thanks for their health, for their families, for their jobs, for their cars for anything you can think of. So many people like to go around putting people down and backbiting others. What a world this would be if we were all thankful for the people around us. If we spent our energy thanking them for the little things they might have done instead of worrying about their not so pretty points, we could change their disposition. If enough people did this, a whole shift would take place in our society. We would see a thankful people all around us, and a smile from every face.
The four points mentioned above are to be done to all men. To all women. To all children. To everyone. Therefore, we have no right to be angry with someone because we are to pray for them. We have no right to look down on someone because we are thankful for them. We will not be bothered by the little quirks in someone’s life because we know how to intercede for them. Our own disposition will be so much gentler and kinder when we follow this simple approach Paul mentions to Timothy.
So often when someone wrongs us or lashes out at us, we take it personal and just get upset with them. We do not know what they have been through that day or what has caused them to feel like that. Then we take the short time they were with us and blow it out of proportion. If we would take time to pray with them or for them, and also give thanks for them in some way, we would see the world through a better light. Instead of being upset at what they said or did to us, we would be thrilled that our attitude was not affected by that word or deed. Instead we rose above it and helped them out at the same time. Do you see how life-changing this can be?
Practice prayer. Practice supplication. Practice intercession. Practice thanksgiving. Practice it with all men, with everyone. We can make a better world!