I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT)
Can I let you in on a secret? Sometimes, I don’t feel like praying. I know! Gasp! A pastor who sometimes doesn’t feel like praying. That’s just wrong! And, you’d be right for thinking this. But, I’m guessing that you can relate.
The truth of the matter is that we all don’t feel like praying from time-to-time. Sometimes it’s because we’re distracted by other things. Sometimes it’s because we are mad at God for something that has happened (or didn’t happen). Sometimes it’s because we are mad at someone else, and we don’t want to talk to God about it (because He will bring it up). Sometimes, we’re just feeling down in the dumps, and we decide to wallow in our self-pity rather than talk to a being who is perfect. We’re good at coming up with excuses.
But, when we are stuck in this attitude, it’s because of selfishness. Think about it this way. All of the excuses I gave in the previous paragraph have to do with us, and how we’re feeling. None of them have to do with God. Therefore, it’s our pride that keeps us from communicating with the Almighty.
The Apostle Paul, in writing this verse to a young pastor named Timothy, is giving him some advice on how to live out His Christian faith. Notice the phrase at the beginning of the sentence, “First of all…” Prayer is of primary importance when it comes to living the Christian faith. It doesn’t land somewhere down low on the list of things we should do to build and strengthen our faith. Once we’ve accepted Jesus, prayer is at the top of the list.
But, Paul also tells us, truly, what prayer is about. Here’s a hint: it’s not about us. Yes, we should ask for God to work in our lives, and to help heal us, to lead us, to inspire us, to give us His wisdom, etc. But, the focus of prayer is not on self, it’s on the power of God working in the lives of humans. That’s why we are called to pray for “all people.” Now, I will challenge you, please don’t just do a generic prayer for “all people.” Name them when you pray. Say their names, pray for specific things that God can do for them, and give thanks that God has placed them in your life. Make it your daily routine. Pray for others.