Thursday, May 2, 2013
Day of Prayer 2013 S.E.E.K God in Prayer
1 Timothy 2:1 "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men."
The Apostle Paul writes this letter to a young pastor named Timothy about pastoring the church of the living God. Among his important instructions, we see Paul urging this young pastor to lead this church to seek God in prayer. On this National Day of Prayer 2013, I thought it would be apropos to consider what it means to seek God in prayer. Jesus desires His church, composed of all true, born-again people, to be a house of prayer for all the nations. (Matthew 11:17) For this special "National Day of Prayer" post, we will utilize the acrostic s.e.e.k to discover how we can seek God in prayer.
Start with God. 1 Timothy 2:1
The Holy Ghost says through Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1 "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men." Four Greek words for prayer are used by Paul in this first verse. Without going into the details, the four terms speak of a progressive effort to desparately seek God and delight in Him. As you study the subject of prayer, you discover that prayer is born of God in the context of need. So why pray? Because only God can control outcomes. He desires Christians to participate in prayer for the bringing about of His will in those outcomes. When you start with God in prayer, you will also end with God in prayer. (Matthew 6; Luke 11) So to "seek" God in prayer means you start with God. But notice secondly....
Expect God to respond. 1 Timothy 2:2-3
Paul continues on in 1 Timothy 2:2, noting that as we pray on behalf of kings, authorities and all people, we pray "so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." Why do God's people and churches get so discouraged in prayer? Simply put - we often do not expect God to respond. Prayers with no expectations lead to no results. Leonard Ravenhill, a long-time evangelist and advocate of prayer, writes: "The lightbulb for us Christians is prayer and God has the power. But it is faith that makes the connection." Expect great things from the Great God and watch the Great God do great things. So you need to start with God, and expect God to respond, and also....
Express prayers for non-Christians. 1 Timothy 2:4-6
We read these words in 1 Timothy 2:3-6 "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." So why mention Christ's Person and Accomplishment of salvation in the middle of a section on prayer? Because the cross is the ground of prayer. Furthermore, Paul is reminding His people that a praying people must not just pray for themselves but beyond themselves. Praying for the lost means your are not just seeking the face of God, but the heart of God. Before you ever thought about our unsaved loved ones and friends - God had them on His mind before time began. Prior to any tears the church of God may shed for the unconverted, God oridained the Son to assume humanity to shed His blood on their behalf. Prayer is the sail to which faith is attached. The Good Gospel Ship is born along by the winds of the Spirit blowing into the sail of prayer. As Paul already wrote, praying on behalf of all people will ensure the necessary conditions for proclaiming the Gospel to those who would or could oppose it. So when you seek God, start with God, expect Him to respond and express prayers for non-Christian people, but notice finally....
Keep Praying, stop complaining. 1 Timothy 2:7-8
Paul writes these words in 1 Timothy 2:7-8 "For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension." Why would Paul tell this young pastor to warn the people not to pray in "wrath and dissension". Why? Because the church to often is known more for fighting one another rather than fighting the good fight of faith. The three underlined words (faith, truth and pray) signal to us how it is we must keep praying, and truly stop complaining. Faith, rather than fear, will ensure that we pray rather than complain. Truth, rather than error, will encourage us to pray rather than complain. Then prayer itself, rather than picking on one another, characterizes the church who is praying rather than complaining. Paul's preaching in verse 7 and the exhortation to pray in verse 8 go hand in hand. God has blessed us more than we deserve. Churches who truly seek God in prayer and are about His kingdom work find far less to complain about. In fact, I would suspect that complaining and picking among Christians is a sure sign that we are not praying as we should nor sharing the Gospel as we ought.
Lord help us as your church in America and throughout the world to be a people who s.e.e.k you in prayer.