1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT) 1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people (not just some people, all people). (NRSV) I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
Remember, Paul is teaching a young pastor the finer points of leading a congregation. So understanding Paul’s intention only helps us to understand the scriptures intention. He guides young Timothy to teach different way of communicating with God. Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgiving: These terms are not limited too, but instead describe the wide categories of our communication with God.
Supplication is simply asking for something. Prayer should never be all asking, but it should ask in bold confidence from God’s Word.
I remember a story about a little boy who prayed and prayed for a BMX Bike. He even got on his little knees, by his little bed, folded his little hands, and began to pray a huge, bold prayer for God to deliver him a brand new BMX bike. He continued to pray that he would know God loved him if he God got him the BMX bike. He would know that God is real if the BMX bike showed up at his house.
His mother, who was with him, said, “buddy, God is not someone to be bartered with.” She continues, “You can’t blackmail God into doing what you want Him to do.”
Fast forward… Christmas came and everyone in the family knew what the little boy wanted for Christmas. As the mom came down the steps she realized there was something missing from the nativity scene on the mantle. Going over she realized that Mary was missing and there was a note in her place. The note read:
If you ever want to see your mother again you’ll get me that BMX bike I’ve been praying for.
You see, it’s funny when a little child does it, but it’s not so funny when adults do it.
Paul is referencing here the broad communication with God through the use of the word “prayer.” All of these aspects are aspects of prayer.
Intercession refers to the requests we make on behalf of others. As we pray, there should be time when the needs of other find a place in our prayer before God’s throne. There are times in my life when God brings to me the needs of others. In those moments I realize that my needs are far less than those around me. Ezekiel 22:20 (NLT) “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.
Did you catch that? God was looking for just one person to stand in the gap of the wall, but he couldn’t find even one! Intercessory prayer stands in the gap for those who are perishing. Intercession is praying to God so that he won’t have to destroy the person who’s far from him.
Thanksgiving is an essential part of our walk with God. It’s simply recognizing God’s sovereignty. Paul indicated that every time we pray we should include a time of thanksgiving (eucharistias).
Again, remember who Paul is telling Timothy to pray for. He’s telling him to pray in Thanksgiving for… kings (Nero) and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
Paul wasn’t just telling Timothy to pray, he was telling him to pray for those who were actively persecuting the church! This is my point for today: When we pray, we need to pray prayers of supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving; even if it means for those who desire to kill us. Pray today for ALL People!