When it’s time to throw a circuit breaker in our house, or to turn a water valve on or off, we will often station one of our kids at the door to the basement. Meanwhile, one adult family member works in the basement where the power box and water shutoffs are located, while another adult is stationed somewhere else in the house. The kid in the middle is responsible for communicating what he hears from one parent to the other. We sometimes call him the “shouter” or “yeller”, and that might be about the only time we encourage our kids to be extra loud in the house.
After talking about the importance of our prayers for others in the first couple chapters of 1 Timothy, Paul explains why we should pray.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV
We probably know that prayer is good (although if you didn’t know that, now you have confirmation), but this verse gives us another reason: prayer “pleases God our Savior”.
Sometimes, people question why we should pray, when God already knows our thoughts. After all, if we say “Your will be done”, doesn’t that just ask God to do what He wants to do anyway? I can’t tell you that I understand all of the details, but the fact is, talking to God pleases Him. And, given who God is, and all that He has done for me, I should be focused on doing things that glorify Him. Jesus even talked about this in John 14:15. If we love Him, we should obey His commandments – including those to pray – even when we don’t fully understand them.
In addition to reminding us why we should pray, this verse reminds us what sort of God our Savior is: one who “wants all people to be saved”. Contrary to some beliefs, God is not looking for a reason to condemn people. (We took care of that all on our own, when we chose to rebel in sin.) God desires salvation for everyone, just like Paul calls on us to be praying for “all people” in an earlier verse. Jehovah God is a good God, and loves people, even when we abandoned Him. If paying for our debt wasn’t enough to demonstrate that, I’m not sure what else anyone would need to convince them of God’s love for us.
Let’s go on to the next couple of verses in 1 Timothy 2:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 NIV
This passage might seem to be a different topic. It almost seems like Paul started to talk about how great God was (in wanting everyone to be saved and to know the truth), and then got distracted by that and started talking about Jesus. That’s not a bad distraction, and when we get off-track in our conversations to glorify Jesus and tell people about Him, I think that can actually be a good thing.
However, a closer look at these verses shows us a key point that relates this description of God [the Father] and Jesus Christ to our prayers: Jesus is our mediator. Like someone today who tries to bring conflicting parties together (whether two warring countries, unions and businesses, or just two friends that need to make up), Jesus intercedes on our behalf.
We aren’t holy enough to see God face-to-face, but Jesus bridged the gap. Not only did He exchange His righteousness for the punishment that our sins had earned, but He – being God and man – can speak to and relate to both God the Father and human beings (like us).
Like the “shouter” in our house, who “mediates” between the person looking at the lights or the faucet, and the one who is turning things off or on, Jesus can hear, understand, and speak to both God and human beings.
Jesus is qualified to talk to God the Father, even as Jesus understands what it means to be human. So, He can help us talk with God, taking our prayers and maybe adding in some translation or His own commentary. (The Holy Spirit has a role in this, as well. I can’t tell you how it all works, exactly, but God’s plan all along was for us to be able to communicate with Him, despite our choices to not be holy.)
Verse 6 also reminds us of a key thing that impacts our prayers. God didn’t just send Jesus to earth to die for our sins (which is what I think Paul is talking about as having “now been witnessed to”) randomly. Instead, this event occurred “at the proper time”.
You may have heard about all of the things that worked together when Jesus arrived, including the presence of a common Greek language to spread the news about Jesus, and a network of Roman roads to distribute the gospel. God does things when it is best to do so. In fact, we may remember that Jesus even told some people to not tell others who He was or what He did during His ministry, because the time wasn’t yet right for that, either.
In the same way, God answers our prayers at just the right time (and in just the right way). We might be impatient for being rescued from a problem, but until we’ve waited 400 years (like the Jewish people before Jesus came to earth), we certainly don’t have any room to complain.
From lesson prepared for September 20, 2020.
- Christian Standard, Volume CLV, Number 9, pages 91-92. © 2020 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy & Titus, by C. Michael Moss. Ph. D. College Press Publishing Company, © 1994.
2 thoughts on “How in the World Can I Pray to a Perfect, Holy God?”
Yes! This brings a lot of cross-reference points to mind, such as the number of times scripture speaks of God doing things at the right, or the appointed, time; also, that we were made for fellowship with God, and He has done everything necessary for that fellowship to be restored. On the question of “why we should pray, when God already knows our thoughts”, I recall hearing Dr James Dobson telling of his wondering why we should ask God for things, since he knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8). Then it dawned on him that “There is no fellowship in eavesdropping.”
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That’s a great quote from Dr. Dobson, reminding us that even if God does know what is on our hearts, there’s not a quality relationship when we don’t voluntarily share with Him what is on our hearts.
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