Petitions and Prayers
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” –1 Timothy 2:1-2
When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy (his “true son in the faith”), the notorious Roman emperor Nero was in power. History tells us that Nero indiscriminately and mercilessly crucified Christians, fed them to the lions, and lit his garden parties with the burning carcasses of Christian human torches. Is it any wonder then that Paul urges God’s people to pray?
Prayer is the most dynamic and powerful weapon in our arsenal, isn’t it? It comforts us when we’re sick, grieving, or struggling with fear and worry. It emboldens us to ask for big things from God, such as healing, wisdom, protection, provision, and justice. As Martin Luther said: “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
We pray, of course, because we believe and have faith that the One we’re praying to is listening. We trust that He has the authority and power to act on our behalf. And, of course, when we don’t know what we ought to pray for, we have the assurance from God’s Word that the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Rom. 8:26).
Although our present-day trials and troubles are not nearly as terrifying as those experienced by the Christians living in Nero’s day, we must not become complacent in our prayers. Who knows but that forces are already present that will bring persecution for us one day…or for our children, or our children’s children. Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20b).
Only God knows the end from the beginning, but as we enter this season of Advent and turn our hearts to the celebration of Christmas, we can find hope and peace in the assurance that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. And prayer, dear friends, strengthens that bond like nothing else.