The Gospel, Prayer and World Peace
In 1 Timothy 2 the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, urges his son in the faith to be devoted to prayer. He urges Timothy to be on his knees before he does anything else. There is good reason for this, perhaps several. First, by urging Timothy to devote himself to prayer he is constantly reminded that he needs the power of God to live in this age. The very act of prayer sends a powerful message that we are not sufficient for the task. The very act of prayer proclaims we are dependent upon the ever-present grace of God for even the mundane things of life.
Prayer, as Paul presents it in 1 Timothy 2, is also other centered. Paul urges Timothy to lift up "intercession and thanksgiving for everyone." Prayer forces us to be aware of our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and our world. The focus of prayer, here, is going to God on behalf of others and not myself. Prayer becomes a great act of loving our neighbor as ourselves when we bring their concerns to God before we give him a list of our own wants and desires.
Prayer is also important, says Paul, because through it we can impact the global scene. Christians in Africa, Asia and North America can affect Osama bin Laden by praying for him. We can affect George W. Bush by going to the Lord on his behalf. We can impact the crime in our land by praying that hearts be changed.
For Paul this is not simply a pragmatic concern however. For him it is a matter of the Gosepl. If the world is in turmoil and Christians would rather fight over biblical trivial pursuit then the message that Christ gave himself as a ransom for all people (2.5) is eclipsed! That for Paul is unthinkable; thus, the urging of prayer by Paul. Christians are to lift up hand in prayer "without anger or disputing" (2.8).
Instead of obscuring the Gospel we are called to pray. By doing so we are reminded of our need of God, we show our love for others . . . and we impact the world. That is how we open a door for the Gospel. So the question is: Are we praying?