1 Timothy 2:1–8 ‘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.’ (vv1–2)
The Lord’s Prayer is in the first person plural (Our Father, forgive us, lead us, etc). Whilst we know God personally, we always pray as members of God’s global community, the Church. Our personal church preference is itself just one small expression of the invisible Church, known to God alone and in contrast to the visible, or institutional constructs of human invention, both large and small. The whole Church prays; my voice is just one amongst Christ’s choir, hymning His name, and prayerfully encircling the globe continuously.
Timothy identifies four elements to help us pray. Petitions are a formal, written request made to an official person, in this case God Himself. They are best expressed in simple, clear terms. Don’t worry about how you frame your petitions, just make them known to God. Too many words and we become like babbling pagans (Matt. 6:7).
Intercession, by contrast, is to empathise and stand before God on behalf of the person or cause we’re presenting. It’s an intervention for their benefit. Prayers are personalised expressions of our worship, whilst thanksgiving expresses gratitude. So, in answer to the question, ‘Am I praying enough?’ that often nags at our conscience, the Lord’s Prayer plus a petition, an intercession for a situation like a personal or national crisis, a remembrance of God’s grace and glory, and time taken to say thank you makes up a wonderful prayer time. God always looks at our heart and not the clock! Let us learn to ‘waste’ more time with God.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: 1 Sam. 1:21–28; Jer. 42:1–12; Acts 12:1–19; Phil. 4:4–9.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: Why not note down Timothy’s simple template from Scripture and adopt it every day to guide your prayer?
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, thank You that You look on my heart and that I can make my simple requests known to You. Amen.’