Roger's Postings

Saturday, September 21, 2013

1 Timothy 2:1-7.                                Importance of prayer!                   22/9/13

 1 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 Saviour, 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.

 As we go through life we face all kinds of situations – from the good and comfortable through to the uncertainties, fears and even serious problems. In our personal lives; our society; and on an international basis, we are confronted on an ongoing basis with so much that is happening that we often find it quite overwhelming.  When we look at the seriousness of it all we can easily be left feeling that we are being swamped by all that is going on around us. How can we have peace, quiet and everything going well for us in our present day world? We want a life where everything goes along well for us, but it seems an impossible dream.

 Even as Christians, we too, are so often prone to the same concerns and thinking. However as Christians we think it should somehow be different for us. We also know that we should be setting an example and being a witness to a better life and helping others through it all. Yet too often it seems as though there is little or no hope of us even coming close to getting it right. In fact so often we are caught going in the other direction – caught up in the thinking of our world around us.

 So what are we to do about it? How can find a way through it all? Are we still able to hold our heads up in the midst of all that is going on in and around us?

 Here I would like to share with you a modern day parable that might be of some help. Bob worked with a group of men on a construction site and tried hard to do what was expected of him. He preferred to work quietly and efficiently without to many hassles, but found that very difficult – there were arguments and squabbles regularly between some of the other men: gossiping and laziness appeared be the norm. Even the foreman didn’t seem to be doing his job properly. So Bob found it difficult to just do what was expected of him. When he tried to do his job well, the guy alongside messed up and made it look bad for him. Along with that a major accident happened in his area and nobody was willing to take any responsibility.

 Now when the boss came on site to talk with him and the others, Bob was not willing to share his concerns and the situation as he saw it. As a result, as time went on Bob became more and more uptight: the hassles and problems became the only thing that he could think about: but he was still not willing to share his thinking with anyone. So he became more and more frustrated and lethargic – less cooperative – and began to make more mistakes himself, and blame others for it.

 Eventually the boss found him not only grumpier but his work was no longer up to standard; and again when he tried to talk to him and help him Bob would still not open up. Finally things got so bad that the boss had to dismiss him. He had let his hassles and problems distract him from what he should have been doing; but most importantly he was not willing to share his thinking, problems and issues with anyone; particularly to his boss when he was given the opportunity to do so. His failure to do so meant that nothing was done to rectify the situation. The outcome was the Bob and his family were the only ones that suffered.

 In similar sorts of ways, we too can find ourselves in difficulty in our Christian lives, as we face the uncertainties, hassles and problems of life. Far too often we fail to share what’s on our minds with God in prayer and as a result our problems all too easily control our lives and get us down.

 Here again we need to note what God has to say to Timothy through Paul here in this reading. The situation for Timothy was not good – Paul had left him in charge of the Church at Ephesus and to try and sort out some of the problems that were there - specifically the problem of false teachers in their midst. So here we have a young man trying to sort out some very difficult people; and from the tone of the letter one gets the understanding that the pressure was getting to him and that he was feeling some of the same kind of things we face when we are under pressure. Here he was encouraged to keep his mind on the job – on what was important. And with that he would find what he needs in order to cope and do what was required.

 So here Timothy, and us, are urged to pray – pray not just for ourselves as we so often do, but for all people. In this respect our reading says 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.

 So there are four different aspects of prayer to be used.

-          Our own personal requests for specific needs

-          prayers for things more general

-          interceding and praying for others

-          and thankfulness for all that God has and continues to do for us.

It is by each of these aspects of prayer that Paul is suggesting to Timothy and to us as well that we will find the peace and quietness that we are looking for. Yes, even in the midst of difficult times. Primarily that is case because it not our toil, effort and might that is going to calm the troubled waters and overcome difficult people and situations. It is prayer first and foremost that will bring the change that is needed.

 This is so because it turns us away from our own self-sufficiency and self-importance – and places ourselves and the situations that we face into the hands of God: the one, almighty God who can do something about bringing the peace and quiet that is needed.

 As the One, who does have control of all things; and is the true super-power who can bring that change that is needed; and who sent his Son to die on the cross so that we can be assured of forgiveness and access to the Father, we can come to him in prayer with confidence.  We can share with him our needs and concerns – our general issues – the needs others – and give him thanks and praise for everything he is and does.

 Instead of bottling things up and worrying about it all – instead of relying on ourselves and our human strengths and abilities; we can, and need to, hand it all over to him who has the answers and power to do something about it. All our military might – human strength – worrying will not give us the peace, security and hope that we seek after.  God alone is our strength and shield; and to him we are encouraged to call on for all that is important.

 This pleases our Lord – that we use prayer in this way, as our first means of living and working out our Christian life: that we look to him as the true source of strength and hope.

 Again we have that confidence and certainty because of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. It was through his entering into our world of pain, suffering and sin; and his dying in our place for our sin; and then rising again from dead, that we know that we have a God who loves us, forgives us and has given us that certainty of life eternal. So we can face the future with confidence and we can give of ourselves for the benefit of others; and we can be sure that God is using these situations for good.

 And since he has done all that for us, surely then it is to him we will look and turn to in prayer as we face each and every day of our lives, no matter what we are experiencing and facing. We will call on him for our needs, the needs of others, for the situations of life, and thanking him for his concern, interest and help.

 So it is in prayer that we find a way out of our negative feelings and find the help and hope that we need. It turns us away from ourselves to look to our God and place our reliance on him and what he has done and will continue to do for us. In him alone we can find the real answers and confidence that we need for ourselves and for all of humanity. So let us not lose sight of this in these times of difficulty and apathy. It is so easy to allow all these negative things in and around us to take over our thinking and to drag us down.

 In concluding then we are encouraged at all times, and particularly when we are struggling, to pray. And pray not just for ourselves, but for all people. Instead of complaining and grumbling, let us find our strength, encouragement and help not in what we do, but in what our Lord has and continues to do for us. In him we find not only our salvation, but also the truth that is needed to give light to everything we face in life, and at the same time the help that only God himself can give. He is our friend and helper: our strength and shield. So turn to him in prayer now and always.  AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish







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