a word to the wise
When was the last time you made a list of people to pray for? Tell us, did you begin with the people whom you love and enjoy, or did you begin with the people whom you have a problem with or have hurt you? Why did your list look the way that it did?
We all have problem people in our lives, and it’s easy to be angry, judge and dispute. Although that might be fun at times, it is not wise, and it does not lead to life. Paul challenges Timothy to take a very different approach…
1 Timothy 2:1-8
Read verses 1-2.
Think about a person with whom you currently have (or recently had) a problem. Don’t use their name. It might be better to talk about somebody from the past (use wisdom). Share why you have a problem with them.
Paul is assuming that there are kings, rulers, bosses, and maybe even pastors with whom the people in the church are having big problems. Paul says to pray with thanksgiving for the people who are problem people for us. How does this advice hit you? Do you think it would be difficult or impossible? If so, why?
Read verses 3-4
This is a famous verse, but we don’t often read it in context. The whole point of this verse is that prayer makes an impact in God saving people! Think and talk about this idea: if the church isn’t praying for people who are difficult to pray for, then who is?
What is your feeling about praying for the person, or the people, or the boss, or the politician, or the group in your life that is difficult to pray for? Has that feeling kept you from doing it?
Read verse 8
This verse explains what Paul meant earlier when he talked about “peaceful and quiet lives.” Anger, judgment, and disputing is easy. Paul says that it is impossible to dispute in anger and pray at the same time! What very practical step could you take to let go of anger, judgment, and disputing so that you can pick up a life of prayer for the people who are hard to pray for?
Share the one thing that the Spirit of God pointed out to you throughout this discussion, and ask for prayer about it.
Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Many times, we think that Jesus is repeating himself and saying the same thing in two different ways. Probably not. “Love your enemies“ is broad and a bit conceptual.Jesus’ listeners would have wondered, “How can I do that?“ So, Jesus follows up that command with a very practical tip: pray for those who persecute you. In this way, Jesus gives a pathway to loving your enemy. Otherwise it will be impossible. What a difficult, challenging, wonderful, and life-changing idea!