The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 [5-8]
Prayers & Thanksgivings
Thanksgiving Eve/Thanksgiving Day
21/22 November 2012
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY
Guest Preacher at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. [1:2b]
Tonight’s [Today’s] sermon text is the alternate Epistle lesson appointed for a day of national Thanksgiving, from 1 Timothy chapter 2: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
A blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.
St. Paul urges us that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. How often are other people forgotten in your prayers? Yes, it is certainly good to pray for our families, our loved ones, our congregation, but that is not to be where our prayer stops. ‘All people” is a lot more inclusive than we think.
Consider how prayer is manifested in practice here. The liturgy heed’s St. Paul’s urging when we often begin the prayer of the church like this: “Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.” That opening invitation to prayer asks you to join with the whole congregation, the whole church, in praying for Christians specifically, in addition to all people. This is a good practice, a practical example of how theology is to be in action—not just sitting in an ivory tower or somewhere on a shelf collecting dust.
How can St. Paul’s urging be made a part of your personal prayer life? Consider another example found within our worship book. Open up Lutheran Service Book to page 294. These pages offer you a rhythm for your daily prayer as an individual, a couple, or a family. This works well for youth group, elders, or LWML meetings.
We are called to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all people. Consider each day of the week. Sunday-for God’s gifts to us. Monday-for the baptized. Tuesday-for those who are tempted. Wednesday-for families and schools and the neighbor. Thursday-for the Lord’s Supper. Friday-for the preaching of the cross of Christ, for the persecuted, the sick, and the dying. Saturday-for faithfulness to the end, for the return of the wayward or erring, for all pastors and people. Do you see how this weekly rhythm could be useful? This is but one type of resource for daily prayer.
Many types of appeals to God are mentioned. Supplications. Prayers. Intercessions. Thanksgivings. A supplication is a request, usually for ourselves or those close to us. Intercessions are prayers on behalf of someone else—on their behalf. Thanksgivings are the most neglected of the bunch, in my humble opinion. Nearly everyone calls upon the Lord in their time of need. Few, as in the Gospel lesson, bother to send the Lord a Thank You Note. I thank God for the Lord gathering you here this day.
Prayers, generically, are conversations with a loving Father. Prayers, specifically, hearken back to Acts 2:42 where the believers devoted themselves to the apostolic teaching-the Word of the Lord, and to the fellowship of the breaking of bread-the Lord’s Supper, and the prayers, plural. Here the term “prayers” refers to the liturgies of the church, drawn from the Synagogue and Passover liturgies of the Jews.
We are called to pray for all in high positions, all in authority. We regularly pray for the President, Congress, Judiciary, the Governor, Legislature, and all who make, administer, and execute our laws. Elsewhere we are told to pray for our enemies. Remembering that and this 1 Timothy text, every politician is covered, every President, whether you like him or not.
All such prayer is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. What is the purpose of such prayer? First, it is so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Sounds good. Second, it is the desire of God our Savior that all people would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
God did not set out to condemn anyone. Human beings were created in the holy divine image. That was lost due to the actions of man and woman, not God. Hell was originally created for Satan, but sadly, those who are not in Christ end up there, too. That is not God’s ultimate purpose. God’s desire for you, yes, you, is that you be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
Note that Paul does not use the plural here—truths. There is one truth here and it’s God’s. It’s not what I say or what the man on the street says. It’s what the Lord says. Paul elaborates on this truth in the verses following the appointed Epistle text:
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling…
Here is a foundational text for our assertion that only Christians can truly pray. There is only one God, as the Scriptures say. Therefore, all other so-called gods are false, and don’t even exist. We are also told, tangentially, that no other mediator can give us His ear. It is possible for people to try to address God in the wrong way. Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man. Therefore, dialing heaven through Joseph Smith, Mohammed, and Mary, are all a waste of time. Jesus, the one mediator, is the only true way to connect with the one true God.
St. Paul then, tells the Truth, not just his truth or his opinion. If you and I and the whole congregation, our sister congregations in the LCMS, and all Christians are truly united in the Truth, then that unity would do a number on anger and quarreling. Think about what you personally have quarreled over in the past—what you regularly and repeatedly are angry about—things you may well be quarreling over right now, even here in the congregation.
Ask yourself a couple things about whatever the issue is. (Don’t worry about the person you’re quarreling with. He or she should be doing this exercise, so you won’t have to do it for them.)
Are you thankful that you have a brother or sister in the faith? Some Christian communities meet in hostile territory. We meet in freedom, and yet we quarrel about little things.
Is the issue about God’s Truth or something less significant, like your personal opinion on something? Christians are certainly allowed different opinions where God’s Word is silent, or where He allows Christian freedom. How can you accommodate your brother or sister in the faith? How about the rest of your Christian community here?
How can you pray for your brother or sister in Christ, for your congregation that together we may remain united in Biblical teaching and Biblical practice?
Finally, confess your sins to God, where you have broken the Ten Commandments, failed to offer thanksgivings, or failed your brother or sister in Christ. Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, including you. He is the one mediator between God and man, and your Savior. Then, go and confess your sins to your neighbor, and forgive those who come to you.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Let us give thanks for the salvation given us by our Savior’s death on the cross and resurrection. Let us give thanks for the physical blessings he has given us. And let us make thanksgivings for all people—not only thanking God for what He has given us and them, but also, thanking God for one another, brothers and sisters in the faith. Amen.
Grace be with you. [6:21b] Amen