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    Prayer and fasting 21 days – 2 Timothy 1

    Paul prays for Timothy to keep burning and encourages him to do so – “fan into flame the gift of God.”  Maybe Timothy was wrestling with disappointments and pressures, or maybe it is a general reminder of the most important thing in life – passion for God.

    Either way the key is to go on asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit first drives out fear, by communicating God’s love deep into our hearts (1 John 4:17-19).  Then the Spirit fills us with three things we need when facing spiritual or human opposition:

    • the power of God to do what is right and do miracles,
    • the love of God to do what is right and act like Him;
    • the self control of God to do what is right and not be provoked into wrong reactions.

    Father, please fill us with Your Spirit so that we can live as Jesus lived, with holy fire in our hearts and your power, love and self control seen in our lives.

    Further reflection

    In Paul’s second letter to Timothy the key themes are shame-but-proclaiming the gospel and suffering-but-power.  It is an intimate and tender letter to a spiritual son and friend, now himself fulfilling an apostolic calling but still looking to Paul for apostolic “covering” or “connection” as well as direction.  The letter was written towards the end of Paul’s life while he was imprisoned in Rome, and at a time when it seems from 2 Corinthians that he has suffered opposition from false leaders within some of the churches and apostolic centres he himself had planted.

    Like many Eastern cultures today, the Roman/Greek world saw honour and shame as the most important aspects of dealings between people.  It was serious to be associated with anyone who brought shame on a family.  But death on a cross was the most shameful thing that could happen (as well as being intensely painful): crucifixion was reserved for slaves.  Yet Paul reminds Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus (verse 8).  We do not put our trust in our standing in society but instead live in the faith and love that are ours through Jesus (verse 13b).  We know we will be honoured by the only Person who matters – by God at the judgment day – if we hold to what He has deposited in us.

    In many ways Paul seems to be weak.  Even some of his team and spiritual sons/daughters have turned away from him.  Maybe they wanted to do things their own way in independence of those connected with Paul’s apostolic ministry and calling.  Maybe they grew weary of weakness and suffering and gave up.  Maybe they could not cope with the shame of being associated with Jesus Crucified.  But there are reminders in this chapter of the power of God being seen in weakness, even through suffering and persecution.  As he wrote in 1 Cor 2:1-5, Paul was determined to live in the fear of God and to speak and act only by God’s power.  With that perspective, he could stand amidst persecution and disappointments, knowing God’s power and glory will ultimately be revealed to all! 

    Chris Horton, 20/09/2017