1 Timothy 2:1-8 – I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
Devotion: Prayer is the first act of evangelism. Long before the person of God should speak to someone far away from the Kingdom of God, they must first meet with the Father, Savior, and Sanctifier – who is One – on behalf of the lost soul. Before we knock on the door, we must kneel on our floors. Before we reach out to the lost, we must reach up to the Lord. This “coming together” of Christ and the Church is right and is acceptable in the sight of God (v. 3), for it is God who evangelizes the nations using believers as witnesses to Jesus Christ. Only after we have received our instructions we can obediently follow them.
When the Christian prematurely attempts to evangelize their neighbors without conferencing with the Evangelizer of the nations, the experience can end in frustration that “no one is responding.” When the church uses business growth strategies or marketing tools to entice large crowds, one must wonder if this is God’s will that only a few become fully devoted followers. When the church refuses to speak to the Lord on behalf of our lost ones, we must wonder if we are fully devoted followers of Christ. Then, there are other churches who do not evangelize the nations at all because they, too, have not conference with the One who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (v. 4). Christians must first convene a meeting in prayer with the One who was “lifted up from the earth,” in preparation to “draw all people to himself.”
The Apostle Paul urged his young apprentice to know the truth: God evangelizes the nations. It is the Holy Spirit who calls, convicts, and converts the sinner’s heart. There is no one more powerful or skilled for the task of drawing people to Christ than the Spirit of the Resurrected One. Yet, God has determined to use men and women who are willing to lift up their hands to heaven – not in a jealous outrage like Cain when he killed his brother Abel – to save their brother and sister. This is a partnership between heaven and the church for those on the earth.
Paul instructed Timothy that “petitions, prayers, pleadings, and praises” be offered to God on behalf of every class of people. This four-fold intercessory act was not to exhort God to evangelize the lost, for God already desires all people to be saved. Instead, it was to serve as a meeting of the minds between the church and Christ – between men and their Mediator – in an effort to orchestrate evangelize.
Dear souls, if your spouse is lost, pray. If your son or daughter is lost, pray. If your neighbor is lost, pray. If your co worker, prayer. If you best friend in school is lost, pray. Hear God’s invitation to “coming together” on your knees in ardent prayer on behalf of the one you love. Conference with the Lord who longs to forgive, love, reconcile, and transform all people – high and low – into kingdom citizens. Then, when you rise from the floor, you will be better prepared to witness to your loved one in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer: Father, who do you want me to speak with about your Son, today? My spouse? My neighbor? The homeless man? The mayor? The king? I humble wait here on my knees for you to give me the word, and then I will go in unison with your Spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Novenas,” page 85, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.