This morning I want to start off by giving you a very simple task. The first thing I want you to do is to stand up. Everybody stand up. Now, turn and look straight at the person beside you or behind you…. Now, tell that person, “God loves you like crazy – no matter what.”
Ok, now you can sit down, but I want you to keep that phrase in your head – “God loves you like crazy – no matter what.” – and I challenge you to say that to at least one other person this week.
Of course, that doesn’t really have anything to do with our message this morning, but I think it’s important that we remind each other that God does loves each one of us like crazy – no matter what – because we tend to forget easily, don’t we?
But back to today’s message. Today we continue in our “Call of Duty” series – looking at our responsibilities as Christians. Last week we talked about our responsibility to cling to our faith and keep our consciences clear so that we can fight well in the Lord’s battles. And I hope you’ve been able to do that this week, because we know we are always in battle – and will be until our time on this earth is over.
So what awaits for us today? Well, let’s find out in 1 Timothy chapter 2. Let’s read that together this morning.
1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 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. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 7 And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.
Now originally, I had planned to go all the way down to the end of the chapter – in fact, when I started this series, I planned to already be done chapter two by this point. However, it seems that God has a slightly different schedule than me. So verse seven is as far as I got this week and I trust that God has a message for us in those verses this morning.
So why don’t we pray and then take a look at these verses.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray….” 1 Timothy 2:1
Well, it doesn’t get much plainer than that: Lesson #1: I urge you, first of all, to pray.
You’ll notice that this is verse 1 not verse 15. Paul didn’t say, do steps one through seven, and then pray. No, Paul says, “I urge you, first of all, to pray.” Of all the instructions Paul gives to Timothy over the next few chapters – the one he starts off with is to pray. And I think we would do well to do the same in our lives.
When you get up in the morning and you’re ready to tackle a new day – I urge you, first of all, to pray.
When you’re at a cross roads, and you’re trying to figure out the next course of action – I urge you, first of all, to pray.
When you’re confronted with one of life’s many problems – I urge you, first of all, to pray.
And even when something awesome happens – I urge you, first of all, to pray.
Prayer should be our first line of defense – not our last resort.
Now that’s probably not news to you. If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you likely heard that several times. But what I found interesting in this verse, is that we’re not really told to pray for ourselves and about our concerns (although there are other verses in the Bible that do tell us to pray about our concerns.
Verses like 1 Peter 5:7
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
Or like Philippians 4:6
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
But in this verse we are not told to pray about our personal needs and concerns, but instead we are told to pray for all people.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 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. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
It’s pretty easy to pray for your family or your close friends or missionaries that you know. And that’s probably who we pray for the majority of the time. But Paul is telling us to pray for all people. We are to pray for our neighbors – even the ones we don’t get along with. We are to pray for our co-workers – even the ones that end up making more work for us. We are to pray for the random people we meet in Walmart – even though we may never see them again. We are to pray for all people!
And Paul specifically mentions that we need to pray for those in authority. When is the last time that you prayed for the RCMP? Or your county councilors? Or your MLAs? Or your members of Parliament?
According to these verses, we need to ask God to help them. We need to intercede of their behalf. We need to give thanks for them. Paul says its good when we do this – it pleases God. God wants everyone to be saved and to know the truth – including those in authority over us.
Then Paul lays out for Timothy exactly what the truth is that God wants everyone to know: verse 5
“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
That’s the Good News right there. That’s the truth that God wants everyone to know. Jesus Christ gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. For me. For you. For your neighbors, your co-workers, for people in Walmart, for your MLA – for everyone. Everyone of us has the opportunity to be reconciled with God – to have our relationship with Him made right.
And that is why we pray for all people. That they would choose to be reconciled with God and acknowledge Him as Lord. Of course, that’s a choice they have to make. We can’t make that choice for them. Everyone of us has to make that personal choice – but our responsibility is to pray for them.
So my challenge for you this morning is this: Have you been fulfilling your responsibly to pray for all people?
Do you pray for your kids?
Do you pray for your spouse?
Do you pray for your grandmas and grandpas – your uncles and aunt – your cousins, nieces and nephews? If you don’t – who will?
Do you pray for your neighbors?
Do you pray for the teenagers that go ripping down your back ally?
Do you pray for the lady that runs the till at the grocery store?
Do you pray for the young man that pumps your gas at the gas station?
If you don’t – who will?
Do you pray for your county councilors?
Do you pray for the MLAs and the members of Parliament – even the ones that you didn’t vote for?
Do you pray for our Prime Minister and the leaders of the other parties?
If you don’t – who will?
Now I realize that as we go through our day to day lives, we don’t always think about our MLAs or our long lost cousins. They’re kind of “out of sight – out of mind.” And maybe that’s part of the reason why we don’t often pray for them.
So here is what I would suggest: On the back of you bulletin you’ll find a prayer calendar. This is a prayer calendar that starts tomorrow and goes for the next two weeks. For each of the 14 days there is a suggestion of some person or group of people that you can pray for.
So for example, on November 4th, it says to pray for our local MLA (Ray Prins). So on that day you (or you and your spouse, or you and your family) can spend some time praying for Ray Prins – along with the rest of us as we too pray for our MLA.
So for the next 14 days, we as a church are going to do our best to “pray for all people.” I realize that our 14 days doesn’t really cover “ALL PEOPLE” – but hopefully, it will get you into the pattern of praying for all the people that cross your path and cross your mind.
At the end of our two weeks of praying for all people, we are going to wrap it up on November 7 – by having a prayer walk through our town. On that Sunday after we have our regular morning service and have a quick lunch which will be provided, we are going to go out into our community and pray for all people. After we organize ourselves, some will go in this direction, others will go in that direction – and we will spread through our town, praying for all the homes that we pass as we walk along.
And as we do this, I believe that our community will be blessed – whether they know what we are doing or not. As we pray, asking God’s blessings on the people that live in this town, God will hear and answer our prayers. I don’t know what the results will be, and we may never find out, but we trust that God will glorified through whatever He does in response to our prayers.
So I’m very excited about this. I actually wanted to do this prayer walk back during the summer, but it didn’t fit the schedule very well. But I’m very glad that we get the chance to do this now.
So I encourage you to start praying through your calendar on the back of your bulletin – together with the rest of your church family – and in two weeks, on November 7th, come to church prepared to pray for all the people in your community. And let’s start fulfilling our responsibilities as Christians ~ by praying for all people.