In the passage of 1 Timothy 2:1-4, we find instruction regarding the ways in which we should all be praying. Many times we get into the habit of our prayers being self-oriented and we neglect many of the people and circumstances for which we should be praying. A vibrant and consistent prayer life is a key to understanding the character and principles of God, so it’s worth pausing to consider all the ways we have been instructed to pray.
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- Prayers of petition – These are the prayers with which most of us are most familiar. God expects and desires us to bring our requests to Him. As we grow closer to God, we will learn to ask Him for things that are in line with His will and purpose. We should never hesitate to ask Him for the things we need. Instead of asking whether you should make choice A or choice B, ask instead for wisdom and discernment in making your decision. He knows all of the possible ramifications of either choice and thus has plenty of wisdom to impart. Continually ask for wisdom in the matter and you will undoubtedly find your heart drawn to one choice over another. This is what is often referred to as “the leading of the Spirit” in Christian circles.
- Prayers of intercession – We all face situations in our life when we are not the ones in need of help, but instead it is a friend, neighbor or relative. We should pray on their behalf, asking for God to strengthen them and provide wisdom and courage to face whatever they may be going through. When we intercede on the behalf of someone else, the power of their own prayer grows exponentially within the Spiritual realm. Jesus said when two or more people prayed in agreement, He would be there with them (Matthew 18:19-20). Having Jesus championing your case is a pretty amazing thought.
- Prayers of thanksgiving – Too often we only think of being thankful directly after surviving a crisis. Thankfulness should be part of our everyday conversation with God. Look around at all of your blessings. Consider that you could have just as easily been born in an impoverished nation with little hope of a future very different from those who came before you. Don’t get caught up comparing yourself with “the Joneses”. Recognize your blessings – physical, material and spiritual – and humbly offer prayers of gratitude throughout your day.
- Prayers for our leaders – This one can be difficult for many of us. If you live in a country ruled by an evil dictator, all you really want is to see them removed. In the United States, we have a hard time praying for someone in the White House who happens to belong to a different political party than the one with which we identify. The fact is the Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders and authorities, so we are without excuse. Pray that they will rule justly and that they might be surrounded by Christ-followers within their circle of influence so that they might someday also come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
Never underestimate the power of prayer. We are privileged to have it at our disposal, and God waits for you to call on His name. Make certain you are engaging in all the types of prayer and not stuck on simply asking God to give you everything you desire. As we learn to pray in different ways to our Creator, we will grow in our knowledge of Him and mature in our faith. Prayer is a direct conduit to God; don’t neglect to use it.
Question: With what aspects of payer do you struggle? You can share your comment with others below.