Evangelistic Praying with Thanksgiving (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Baxter, that marvelous pastor of the seventeenth century, wrote this: He said:

O, if you have the hearts of Christians, let them yearn toward your poor ignorant ungodly neighbors. Alas, there is but a step betwixt them and death and hell. Many hundred diseases are waiting ready to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate, they are lost forever. Have you hearts of rock that cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the Word of God and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves? If you do believe it, why do you not bestir yourself to the helping of others? Do you not care who is damned as long as you are saved? If so, you have sufficient cause to pity yourselves, for it is a frame of spirit utterly inconsistent with grace. Dost thou live close by them…or meet them in the streets…or labor with them…or travel with them…or sit and talk with them and say nothing to them of their souls or the life to come? If their houses were on fire, thou wouldst run and help them and wilt thou not help them when their souls are almost at the fire of hell?[1]

Are we thankful for our salvation?

Are we thankful for opportunities to share that salvation with others?

Today, I wish to look at 1 Timothy 2:1-4 and I want to focus on evangelistic praying.

Theme: We pray with thanksgiving for all and we pray for all to receive Christ.

Let’s read 1 Timothy 2:1-2:

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. 

  1. In verses: 1-2: The apostle Paul writes about the objects and contents of prayer
    1. Let me say right away that the point of our prayers is salvation for others. Look at verses 3-4: This is good, and pleases God our Savior,who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
    2. I see a principle once again that thankfulness is part of prayer, but I also see within this that it is all about salvation.
    3. I once heard Ray Ortlund Jr. say not to insult God with small prayers and then he said “God can save the Supreme Court.” We’ll come back to that idea. But let’s start at the beginning.
    4. Notice as we look at verse 1 that Paul urges the people; he writes, “I urge…” The verb this is translated from just carries the idea of encouraging or exhorting. Paul is exhorting us, challenging us to take this instruction on prayer so seriously. Now, what does he say?
    5. He says that we pray with petitions. This doesn’t simply mean that we make a list and get many people to sign it. No, this has the idea of our prayer life being a humble list to God. This carries the idea of pleading to God.
    6. Then Paul simply says, “Prayers.” I urge you to pray. The noun used for “pray” is the most general word we can use to pray. In fact, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of praise, prayers of intercession and all other types of prayers fit under this noun’s definition.
    7. Then Paul urges us to intercession: this is praying on behalf of other people’s needs.
    8. Then we are urged to pray in thanksgiving. Never forget what God has given you.
      1. It is so easy to simply come to God with our needs while forgetting what we have been given. Things like giving thanks prior to eating a meal are not that common anymore.
    9. We pray in petition, intercession and thanksgiving: One source tells me: “These three terms indicates that the initial prayer term distinguishes the element of insufficiency by the requester, the second highlights devotion by the seeker, and the third underscores the childlike confidence of the petitioner.”[2]
      1. So these prayer terms are all very important. Prayers of petition show that we are merely human coming before God. We are insufficient and we ask for God’s help in humility. We pray in intercession simply coming to God with the needs of others. We come giving thanks recognizing what God has provided.
    10. Now, Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that these prayers are to be offered for all mankind. No one is left out. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are to list everyone by name. We might, but this just means that we can pray for anyone. Don’t leave people out because you don’t like them, or because they are a different social class, or because they vote different, or because you didn’t vote for him or her.
    11. But verse 2 specifies a few groups to pray for. We must pray for kings and all those in authority. This is not the only time Paul mentions praying for our leaders. Our leaders have a great task on them; pray for them.
    12. Do you ever thank God for kings and leaders? Do you ever thank God for those in authority? How do we pray with thanksgiving for politicians? We are told to pray with thanksgiving.
    13. By the way, thanksgiving is the only element of prayer that will continue forever. Everything else will fall after we’ve entered His presence. For there we’ll only thank Him forever and ever. So this…that only eternal element of prayer must be a part of those prayers we offer even here.
    14. I am sure that we have a lot of great leaders: local, state, national to pray in thanksgiving for. However, we can also be thankful for our salvation.
  2. Now, in verse 4 the Bible says, God wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. Now that verse is redundant. “Saved” and “knowledge of the Truth” are both used to mean salvation.
    1. This is a major principle: God loves all. It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, black or white, American, or French, German, Egyptian, etc, etc and etc. God loves all. God wants all to be saved.
      1. False teachers likely taught that salvation was only for Jewish people, but that is not true. God loves all.
      2. Now, this doesn’t mean that all will be saved. God still gives us choice and we must choose Him.

So, a goal of our prayer is salvation. As we pray for people, pray for their salvation. Pray for their spiritual state. Ask God to make you think like an evangelist.

I have talked and prayed about an evangelical mindset. This means that we would be asking God to show us the real need out there. We ask God to show us the reality of heaven and hell. We ask God to help us to see people and ourselves the way that He sees people and us. This means we would see the grossness of sin, but also potential in Christ.


So, as we go into Thanksgiving, as we go into the holiday season, let’s pray. Let’s pray with thanksgiving. Let’s pray for salvation for all. Let’s pray that God shows us the need for salvation. Let’s pray that God opens our eyes. Let’s thank God for salvation.

Let’s pray.

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)



[1] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/54-11/evangelistic-praying-part-1

[2] New American Commentary

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