Connected with the Chief 1 Timothy 2:1-15
Perhaps the older brothers who spoke of “laboring” in prayer were on to something. It’s hard work and just about anything else seems easier to do. I suspect Timothy found this so, judging from the earnest appeal Paul makes in 1 Timothy 2. The apostle says, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men…” (2:1 NASB). This immensely spiritual activity is of first importance in being a leader of God’s people—it provides a constant communication link with the Chief Shepherd of the flock. We elders are assistant shepherds and we plead with God (for leadership orders), discuss with God (the general concerns of the body), intercede with God (when His people struggle), and thank God (for what He has done, is doing, and will do).
Of course, in the context of chapter two we are to pray for those in secular authority, but certainly this teaching would include praying for those in spiritual leadership as well, whether our fellow-elders, deacons, Sunday school leaders, teachers, women’s ministry leaders, youth leaders, small group leaders, various ministry coordinators, etc. This leads to a “quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (2:2b). Nothing can wear down a local church more than lack of capable leaders who exercise good organizational management. In fact, a well managed church is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (2:3). It frees believers to be about the ultimate business of the church, reaching lost souls for Christ. That is God’s desire (2:4). Therefore, we should pray for the spiritual leaders at every level.
Paul contrasts his instruction to the males in verses 1-8 with his instruction to the women in 9-13. Not that women were not to pray, but rather, prayer ought to be a priority for men. Possibly, men need more prodding on this than women. Some even find it helpful to physically lift up their hands (2:8) to symbolize their yearning for the Lord’s involvement in their lives and ministry, as it so often means in Scripture. The thrust of this verse is that our prayers should not be simply an ostentatious show, but should be backed by a life unstained by sin’s unity-destroying deceitfulness, that is, “holy hands without wrath and dissension.”
So, fellow-elders, it’s hard work to pray—and it is hard to do it often. It requires faith that God really does hear us and that our prayers make a difference. Through prayer, we connect with Him who gave His life for the sheep.
Do you begin your elders’ meeting with prayer? I don’t mean a rote rehearsal of some dusty list of names, or a generic, “Lord, bless all these requests”–but rather real, sustained prayer for the needs of the people. Does the congregation have a means for regularly conveying their specific prayer needs to the elders? Here is one idea that works: in our church we regularly have comment/prayer cards in the bulletin each week for people to write in their prayer needs. And then each week at our elders meeting we pray for those needs on our knees.
Whatever the method, elders need to be about the task of praying for the people of God, both collectively as an elders’ group, as well as individually.