1 Timothy 2:1 "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men."
Note to reader: For a more indepth version of this post, check out the other blogsite at: https://biblicalexegete.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/a-closer-look-at-four-different-types-of-prayer-in-1-timothy-21/
1. Entreaties = Desperate praying
For example in Luke 2:37 we see the widow Anna serving God in the temple with "fastings and prayers". Clearly this widow's prayer-life was accompanied by a desperate sense of seeking God's face. In Luke 5:33 we see the prayer-life of the disciples of John the Baptist described with this word in the statement: "often fasting and offering prayers". Imagine following after a powerful figure like John the Baptist whose urgency to prepare the way for the Messiah wove its way through every teaching and activity.
Thus when we see Paul urging Timothy and the congregation at Ephesus to offer up "entreaties", he is urging them to make sure their prayers are laced with an urgency and resolve to seek God in specific ways. This tone ought to accompany the Christian's prayer life. With the idea of "entreaty" in clearer view, we can now move onto the second word for prayer in 1 Timothy 2:1, namely...
2. Prayers = Purposeful praying
As Christians living in this 21st century world, the temptation to be distracted is at an all time high. If anything, Paul's use of this word in 1 Timothy 2:1 suggests the idea of having "purposefulness" in our prayer life. So thus far we have seen with the word "entreaty" the idea of desperation for God in our prayer-life and with the common word translated "prayers" we have understood the need for purposefulness. Now lets consider the third word in this text...
3. Petitions = Personal praying
As Christians, there ought to be a sense in which God is not viewed as some remote, abstract person. Certainly God is Sovereign and All-powerful (Omnipotent), however He is, in the words of Jeremiah the prophet, not only the God who is far off but the God who is near. (Jeremiah 23:24). God is the Father of the Christian by adoption and by His Holy Spirit with Whom He shares the same eternal essence, Christians cry out "Abba, Father". (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6). Is it no wonder that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray He began the prayer with "Our Father". Thus what Paul is telling Timothy and Christians today is that when praying, pray with desparation for God, purposefulness and a desire for closeness with God in intercession for others. Now lets consider the fourth word for prayer in 1 Timothy 2:1, namely....
4. Thanksgivings = Thankful praying
Perhaps the reader is familiar with the word "eucharist" which is used in some Christian circles as a name for the celebration of the Lord's table. In the Supper we give thanks to the Lord for His substitutionary death on behalf of His people. Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker (BAGD) in their Greek Lexicon list the additional meeting of "gratitude".
Certainly Christian people ought to not view prayer as only asking things from God. Without thanksgiving, prayer grows stagnant. Just as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, certainly the shortest distance between the heart of the Christ-follower and worship is that of thanksgiving.
This post has attempted to sketch out the distinctive meanings of the Greek words behind the English words for prayer that are found in 1 Timothy 2:1. It has been learned that prayer needs to be a desperate seeking after God (i.e entreaty). Secondly, prayer needs to be purposeful and intentional (i.e prayer). Thirdly, prayer needs to be aimed at closeness with God and interceding for other people (i.e petition). Then finally, prayer needs to include thanksgiving so as to raise prayer to the level of true worship (i.e thanksgiving).