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    Prayer and fasting 21 days – 1 Tim 2 

     By Ps Simon Smailus

    Paul’s instructions are to Timothy, the leader of the church in Ephesus, and in turn Timothy will instruct the people with the teaching. What does Paul teach first of all?  We are to talk to God on behalf of all people. This what intercession means.  It pleases God so if you want a simple and sure way to please the Lord then pray on behalf of all people!

    Lord, help us in this 21 day period to establish good habits of praying – for the many people we each know and are close to and also for many we don’t know, especially those who are in positions of authority.

    Further reflection

    We can see that even 24/7 prayer would never exhaust the great need of intercession. What a calling! We do not have to travel to places that are difficult to get to in order to pray for the people there. God is urging and inviting us to pray, which is something every believer can do. Often the simplest things are done the least. How is your praying? Have you prayed for everyone in your work place, school, road, and community? How about your local Councillors, MPs and Prime Minister? In the comfort of our own home, as well as together with our fellow believers, we have the opportunity and privilege to pray for all people. Here we also find an amazing promise: this pleases the Lord!

    Further on in this chapter Paul adds to this theme of prayer. Paul emphasises that prayer must be done out of a right attitude and heart. It should not be done to receive external praise and recognition. It should not be done out of anger or to get God on our side in a dispute. Remember the prayer that Paul is talking about is on behalf of others. We are interceding for them. We are not praying for personal benefit or blessing.

    In urging prayer with right attitudes Paul seems in verses 9 to 15 to be suppressing the gifts and calling of women, or simply reflecting common Jewish and Roman attitudes in a male dominated society.  In fact, the better way to read these verses is to recognise the context of Ephesus as home to a number of aristocratic women who were dominant and displayed their wealth and power in jewellery.  It is quite likely Paul is addressing a particular problem in Ephesus of a group of such women interrupting church meetings and assuming their position in society made them more knowledgeable than others from a poorer background.  Verse 15 seems very difficult to understand but Ephesus contained the world famous temple to the Greek goddess Artemis (Diana to the Romans), and it seems that she was known as a protector to women through the painful and sometimes dangerous process of childbirth.  So Paul is reminding Timothy to teach women to trust God to keep them safe through childbirth, not the old pagan charms or spells.  As God’s people we live in faith, love and holiness.

    We have received blessing from God. Now what we are doing is praying to bless others. We are praying that God’s favour would rest on them and that God would save them. This type of prayer is selfless and  looks only to the benefit of others. We can see this type of prayer repeatedly in the Life of our Lord. On the Cross and in great suffering Jesus prays that his persecutors may be forgiven. The focus of his prayer was for their benefit.

    Sadly, much of our praying revolves around ourselves and our family. There is nothing wrong with this as long as we don’t stop there, as long as we continue and intercede for those around us. Will you commit to this kind of praying?

    Simon Smailus, 15/09/2017