Praying is Practicing the Presence of God Together

Praying with Lifted Holy Hands

A sermon idea based on 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

1 Timothy 2:1-7 NRSV

[1] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. [3] This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, [6] who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time. [7] For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Prayer makes a difference, both in us and around us. Prayer is an integral part of the mission of God to save a lost world and bring everyone into a peaceful relationship with himself.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

Prayer is not a means to accomplish ministry. Prayer is ministry.

Prayer is not a tool for developing a relationship with God. Prayer is a relationship with God.

It’s most likely that Paul was addressing the nature of public gatherings of believers, but don’t think of his words here as simply addressing what we think of today as “worship services” in which prayer sometimes looks like a budget line item. Rather, Paul was encouraging this body of Christ in Ephesus to gather and communally have conversations with God about the affairs of the world in which they were attempting to share the gospel.

As Richard Rohr says in his book, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See,

The word “prayer” has often been trivialized by making it into a way of getting what you want. But… I use “prayer” as the umbrella word for any interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope, and love within yourself. It is not a technique for getting things, a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now.

If it is possible for the individual to experience the personal presence of God in prayer, then it stands to reason that the body, collectively, can do the same. The church, gathered, can “practice heaven now.”

I used to see this passage as a challenge to pray that God would somehow influence or make political leaders do the “right thing” so that Christians might enjoy peace instead of persecution. But I think Paul had a bigger vision in mind.

Prayer, itself – the practice of the presence of God among people – is what ultimately leads us toward a truly peaceful world where everyone can flourish freely.

God wants to save everyone, as Paul makes clear here, and prayer as the practice of God’s presence in the middle of our mess and chaos paves the way for his saving, redemptive activity among people.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

Pray, not just as a religious activity or as a means to a desired end, but pray in the sense that you tune into the presence of God in and around you, trusting him to re-order the world according to his redemptive will. Give your mind, heart, desires, ambitions, and worries to God in prayer and receive from him his power and presence to bring peace to it all.

 

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About the Cover Art: Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash.