October 7, 2001: Pray Wisely

Let us pray: Lord, in Your Word of truth You teach us exactly how to pray. We are to put the longings of our hearts-all of them-into words and to lay them before Your throne of grace. We are to always pray in Your holy name and out of faith in You because You are our mediator, our go-between, when it comes to approaching Your Father for help. Dear Lord, may the longings of our hearts and the meditations of our lips truly be acceptable in Your sight because they have been cleansed by Your precious blood! Amen


TEXT: I Tim. 2: 1-8

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

Are Christian prayers better than those of the Muslims, the Hindu’s, the Buddhist’s, or even those folks who prayed for help over the past few weeks due to recent terrorism but who have no faith in Jesus Christ? The answer is a resounding: Yes! But, why are they better? The answer to that question is found in our text. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” Any prayer uttered to a “god” apart from the Triune God, apart from faith in Jesus Christ gets routed into God’s delete folder. That’s because we can approach God only through Christ and we know about His love and care for us only through Christ.

About two months ago my computer got a surge of lightening through the phone line and it blew out my modem and messed up the circuitry. The software was working fine. The problem was in the hardware-until little Rebecca Rose’s dad fixed it. So it is with the prayers of non-Christians. The software-people’s good intentions-may be just fine, but unless and until the hardware is fixed-our relationship with the triune God is fixed via faith in Christ-those prayers of the unbelievers are short-circuited.
All of this goes to illustrate just what a privilege it is to be able to pray and to know you’re being heard! Moreover, because God hears us out of love for Christ He also must answer us!-No delete button when it comes to you!

Today’s text talks about prayer. And if I were to paraphrase it, St. Paul’s words boil down to one vital thought:


“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, 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.”

St. Paul urges us to pray regularly because Christ commanded us to pray. Remember that passage: “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”? Those words: “ask, seek and knock” are in an imperative, a command form. Prayer isn’t an option for a Christian. It is as natural as breathing.

Next, Paul goes on to tell us the various forms our prayers are to take. We can make personal requests of God, we are to make intercessions-that is to pray for others, and we are also to thank God for His blessings in our prayers. Obviously the most comprehensive format for all that is in our Sunday morning worship service, as we’ll do shortly after the sermon. But, we should also remember to pray in that fashion on a daily basis, too. Just this week a member called with a problem and asked me to pray for them. I love those requests! God loves them too because those intercessory prayers get us out of our own skin and force us practice Christian love for each other.

Praying for others should especially include our political leaders, judges, policemen, teachers, and all others in authority over us-preachers included! Certainly over the past few weeks America has been reawakened to the vitality of prayer. Now we must all do our best to make sure that those prayers are wise in that they give honor to the only One who can answer them-Jesus Christ!


“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Did you catch that phrase “God our Savior”? God is our Savior. God in the person of Christ died for all our sins. He made peace between us and His heavenly Father. If faith-filled prayers are the software, then He is the hardware to insure we’re heard. Too often people try to find God all on their own. Too often they invent a “god” to fit their own image of what they think He should be like. In short, they create their own “hardware.” The problem is, it doesn’t work. It is as problem-filled and as small as its creator. No, we need a God bigger than we are. We need a God who is beyond us, Who controls everything-even those things we fail to understand. We need a God Who is loving and big-hearted, not petty and spiteful-like us. And that God has made Himself known in Jesus Christ. For unlike us, “He wants all men to be saved and to come the knowledge of His truth.” Those words are glorious! For they mean that Christ’s love for us is greater than our sins. They mean that God is forgiving-even toward His enemies.

Remember those words of Jesus on the cross?-“Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Yes, Jesus wants you to trust in Him and to look to Him alone for help and comfort. He died for “all men,” which means He died for each and every one of you! That truth taken to heart is what fixes our prayers and makes them acceptable to God Almighty! Yes, we always pray in Jesus name because “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”


St. Paul was appointed by God to be a herald, a messenger, of this glorious truth. The truth that “Christ gave himself as a ransom for all men.” And as a result of our being recipients of this Divine link between needy us and a bountiful, loving Lord, we are to pray wisely. We are to pray with love and forgiveness not only on our lips but in the deep recesses of our souls. We are to pray thankfully, thoughtfully, and regularly. Yes, as Paul says: “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”

You negate the effect of a prayer when anger seethes underneath the surface of your words. You negate its effect when you’re praising God with your lips but plotting exactly how you’ll get back at another with your mind. Such prayers are unwise because they overlook love, compassion, and forgiveness. In short, such prayers cast Christ and His holiness aside in favor of our own petty selfishness.

My friends, don’t let such thoughts intrude into your communion with God! Pray wisely! Talk to God with humility in your heart. Speak to Him with love and thankfulness on your lips! And always expect an answer. It may not be exactly the answer you desire, but in humbleness you’ll learn that wonderful truth that the prophet Isaiah speaks of when he quotes God with these words: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Yes, because God sees the big picture, in love He’ll also make sure that His children receive only His very best! Amen