Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Prayer and the Ideal Christian Life

What do you pray for on a daily basis? How does that prayer add to the quality of your life?

Popular Translation

1 First of all, I urge everyone to pray to, petition, and thank God for all people, 2 especially for kings and people with fancy titles. In that way, God will allow us to live in peace, with lives of prayer and serious work. 3 This is a good thing to do. Our God who saves us accepts these prayers. 4 He wants everyone to be saved and to learn the truth. 5 There is only one God. And Jesus Christ in the only mediator between God and people. 6 Jesus gave himself up as a ransom for all people. Jesus showed everyone what God did at the right time. 7 So God sent me out as a preacher and an apostle. I'm telling you the truth. This is not a lie. He sent me to teach the Gentiles about our faith and God's truth.

8 So, I want everyone all over the world to pray with hands raised high and without angry words or evil thoughts.

Literal Translation

1 First, I encourage every request, prayer, appeal, and thanksgiving to be made for all men, 2 for kings and every person being (called) an "excellency," so that we can live a tranquil and quiet life in all piety and seriousness. 3 This is good and acceptable before our savior God, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come into knowledge of the truth. 5 For God is one, and one is the mediator between God and man, JESUS CHRIST, 6 the (ONE) having given HIMSELF as ransom in behalf of all, a testimony in the distinct proper time. 7 For that, I was appointed herald and apostle–I speak the truth and do not lie–teacher to the Gentiles in faith and truth.

8 So, I desire men in every region to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or (ill) intent...

2:2 "we can live a tranquil and quiet life in all piety and seriousness" The term "seriousness" referred to an ethical lifestyle.

2:5-6 These verses form an early creed. The phrase "God is one" echoed Exodus 6:4: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." (RSV) 2:5b-6 addressed the position and activity of Jesus. He is the mediator who died on the cross. His death was a ransom, a payment to free someone from slavery. Implicitly, the slavery was sin.

2:6c was an obtuse phrase that referred to God's appropriate timing in history. The "right time" for the appearance of a Savior would become a favorite theme among Greek Church fathers.

What would be the ideal Christian life? The author of 2 Timothy described this life in terms of peace, piety, and evangelization. The desire for a peaceful life is almost universal. The author encouraged everyone to pray for their nation and its leaders (even if the leaders were hated), so God would bless the faithful with freedom from persecution, harassment, and prejudice. This freedom would allow followers of the Lord to live an ethical lifestyle and to evangelize.

The author detailed a short creed to stress evangelization. The note above discussed the Jewish roots of the creed (God is one) and the focus on the place and activity of the Christ. He highlighted the creed (and the evangelistic priority of the community) in a short declaration about the ministry of Paul. He was herald, apostle, and teacher to the Gentiles.

The author ended these verses the way he began, with an appeal for prayer. The first appeal was for nation and its leaders, the second was for prayer without rancor. The first was for substance, the second was for a prayer style within the congregation.

The author's comments present us with a challenge. Do we pray for our leaders (even prospective leaders), so we can live in peace? Do we pray in a way that is free of malice? Or do we compartmentalize our prayer life and insulate it from our politics and personal relationships? We may not agree with our leaders. We may not like some individuals in our congregations. But we should pray for them and seek to live in peace with them. As the author stated, such a prayer is good. And God readily accepts it.

Do you pray for political and social leaders? Do you pray to live in peace with your neighbors, family, and associates (even though they might irritate or harass you)? Do you pray that God will be pleased with your prayer? Focus on these questions in your prayer life this week.