“I exhort therefore, that, first [most importantly] of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).
The apostle Paul was a great believer of structure. His exhortations to young Timothy form the basis for a Manuel of Church Order, based on solid Bible Doctrine.
Christians need a belief that will behave. Christians need good behavior, because the Church is commanded to, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
Many people do not like a structured life, because they do not want to be told what to do, or how to act. This is not surprising given the fact, that, since Adam in the Garden of Eden, individuals are by birth, and by choice, a rebel without a cause, other than to be autonomous.
An impulsive lifestyle, an existential lifestyle, an unstructured life is more fun, and is more natural, due to the Fall. Prior to the Fall, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to name the animals, and to keep it.
He lived a life full of meaning, definition, and purpose, because he had work to do, and because he had fellowship with the Lord Jesus every single day.
Sin changed all of that.
Life was different after the Fall. When Adam sinned, life lost its meaning. Fellowship with God was broken.
The heart became fearful.
Suddenly, Eve was not as lovely as she once was.
In fact, Adam blamed God for giving her to him, thereby making him do wrong. Operation Blame-shifting was not the original idea of Sigmund Freud, but the First Adam.
The Millennial Generation has perfected the art of Blame-shifting. It has to be the most whining and irresponsible generation in a thousand years. “YOU made me” do “this or that”, is the automatic response to any situation that goes wrong. Individuals fight for self-control without personal accountability.
However, spiritual autonomy is not even a remote possibility for Christians. Jesus said, “Why do you call me LORD and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). It is a good question.
In verse 1, four obligations are placed on Christians on behalf of all others. Christians are to offer supplications, and prayers, make intercession, and give thanks for all men.
First, supplications are to be offered. The word for supplication is deesis (dey-ay-sis), and refers to a petition. The Bible includes many prayers of supplication.
Perhaps the best-known prayer of supplication is the Lord’s Prayer, when the petition is made, “Give us this day, our daily bread.”
On December 8, 2017, Pope Francis suggested changing a part of the words to the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:13 from, “Lead us not into temptation” to “Do not let us fall into temptation.”
On May 22, 2019, Pope Francis officially approved an updated translation of the Lord’s Prayer. Those in the Catholic faith will be instructed to pray, “Do not let us fall into temptation.”
The Pontiff explained his thinking on this issue on the words of the text about temptation. “A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately,” Francis said of the line in question. “It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”
Linguistically, and theologically, the change in the English translation is warranted. Remember that Jesus spoke the multi languages, of His era: Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.
The book of Matthew was not written in English, and so the authors of the KJV did their best to understand the original languages and bring the Words of the various manuscripts into English.
Perhaps a better translation of the Scripture would be: “Abandon us not when in temptation.”
The Prince of all Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, noted in a sermon in 1863 that the word “temptation” in Matthew 6:13 actually supports two meanings, both the temptation toward sin, and the facing of trails and tribulations.
The Christian pleads with God, “Lead us!” “Lord, lead me.” And then, the horrifying reality comes, “Not into temptation.” The idea is that the flesh is weak. Those of us who are self-aware know we are tempted to various sins because we are weak.
Some people are tempted to indulge in too much alcohol.
Some are tempted to eat in an excessive manner.
Some people are tempted to buy impulsively.
Some men and women are tempted to succumb to lustful instincts.
Others are prone to explosive fits of anger and rage.
Many years ago, an anonymous author confessed to being tempted, and wrote a song.
“I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be
Thro’ this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.
When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.”
A prayer of supplication, is a prayer that is directed toward some specific need.
There is no better prayer of supplication than to ask the Lord to lead us every moment of every day, and keep us from giving in to temptation.
Second, prayers are to be offered. The Greek word used is proseuche (pros-yoo-kay’), and refers to a prayer of worship.
Keep in mind that prayer and worship must be distinguished. It is possible for people to say a prayer, and not worship the Lord.
Prayer refers to communicating with God. Prayer is talking to God in simple words. Worship is distinct, for it involves the heart expressing praise and devotion.
The people of Israel knew how to say prayers, but they did not always worship the Lord. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch, as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).
When the Church offers prayers, if it wants to worship, the heart must be engaged.
A modern-day illustration of this is when the pastor leads the congregation in saying the Lord’s Prayer, and the ladies are planning the Sunday dinner, while the men are looking at their watches to see how much longer before the football kickoff.
The Lord would have His people make supplications, and offer up sincere prayers. If there is a need to know how to pray, there is no better instruction in prayer, or patterns for prayer, than the Psalms.
Pray the Psalms with an engaged heart, and you will be fulfilling the royal command to pray.
Third, intercession is also the will of God. One of the great doctrines that came from the Reformation was that every believer is a priest before God.
The idea of a universal priesthood was vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church. Rome preferred a specialized priesthood in order to have greater control over the lives of the people.
The priesthood of all believers is a foundational concept of Protestantism, and distinguishes itself from Catholic theology.
Martin Luther referred to the universal priesthood of every believer in 1520 in his work, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.
Luther wanted to dismiss the medieval Christian belief that Christians were to be divided into two classes: “spiritual” and “temporal” or non-spiritual.
He put forward the doctrine that all baptized Christians are “priests”, and “spiritual” in the sight of God. Said Luther:
“That the pope, or bishop anoints, makes tonsures, ordains, consecrates, or dresses differently from the laity, may make a hypocrite, or an idolatrous oil-painted icon, but it in no way makes a Christian, or spiritual human being. In fact, we are all consecrated priests through Baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 says, ‘You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom,’ and Revelation 5:10, ‘Through your blood you have made us into priests and kings.’”
Two months later Luther would write in his Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520):
“How then if they are forced to admit that we are all equally priests, as many of us as are baptized, and by this way we truly are; while to them is committed only the Ministry and consented to by us? If they recognize this they would know that they have no right to exercise power over us (ius imperii, in what has not been committed to them) except insofar as we may have granted it to them, for thus it says in 1 Peter 2, ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a priestly kingdom. “In this way we are all priests, as many of us as are Christians. There are indeed priests whom we call ministers. They are chosen from among us, and who do everything in our name. That is a priesthood which is nothing else than the Ministry. Thus 1 Corinthians 4:1: ‘No one should regard us as anything else than ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God.’
The main Bible passage which sets forth the universal priesthood of every believer is 1 Peter 2:9.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Exercise your Royal Priesthood by praying for others.
Finally, Paul exhorts Timothy, and all Christians, to give thanks. If you are familiar with the word Eucharist, another term for the Lord’s Supper, then you will know the Greek word for giving thanks, eucharistia (yoo-khar-is-tee’-ah). The word speaks of gratitude. Eucharistia is active, grateful language expressed to God, as an act of worship.
Let the Church say with Seth Sykes (1892 – 1950), and Bessie Sykes (1905 – 1982):
“Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank You, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.”