The Unity of God: Foundation of Effective Prayer

praying hands_1tim2~5Some years ago I wrote a lesson for our church’s Truth Seekers Adult Quarterly based on the Apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy. The key text of the lesson was from First Timothy 2:1-15 with the aim “to know there is one God and one mediator between God and man, that being Jesus, and to respond by praying.”

A close look at this text reveals that belief in the one God is more than agreeing to a statement of faith. It also has a practical application for daily living including the practice of prayer. As I point out in the lesson, the foundation for effectual prayer includes the unity of God. Here are some excerpts of my commentary on the text:

First Timothy 2:1, 5 [1] “I exhort therefore that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men…. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus….”

These words describe elements of prayer. Supplications are requests indicating our basic need of God’s blessings. Prayers refer to the element of holy reverence to God. Intercessions is more accurately rendered petitions and includes the idea of freely coming to God with childlike familiarity. Giving of thanks, which should accompany every prayer, expresses our sincere response of undeserved blessings. Always asking something from God without giving thanks reveals our inner attitude of unthankfulness. We are warned about this. (2 Tim. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:18.)

“Prayer…for all men.” The fate of nations depends on their leadership. As the leaders go, so goes the nation. History has proven this repeatedly. Wicked leaders create chaos and war. Righteousness leaders create harmony and peace. (Prov. 29:2.) It is important that believers pray for national leaders, whether they are prime ministers, presidents, dictators, senators, congressmen, or governors. When a nation has serious problems it’s easy to blame those in power. If we don’t earnestly pray for them, however, we deserve part of the blame, too….

Verse 2: “Prayer…for kings, and for all that are in authority.” Three reasons for this:

(1) So the church may operate in peace. Churches have been persecuted from without and within. Prayer is necessary to help churches have external and internal peace. Although churches in the free world may not be physically persecuted, there remains a “fight” which exists between our stand for morality and the immorality of society. Prayer for the right moral judgments and decisions our leaders make will benefit the work of the church. (1 Thess. 5:17.)

(2) Verse 2: “Prayer…for kings, and for all that are in authority”.  If no other reason surfaced to pray for our leadership, this would be reason enough. Prayer for our national leaders is in God’s will.

(3) God wants “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 4). The desired result of prayer for our leaders is twofold: namely, salvation and truth. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). This is God’s moral will for man, although not everyone chooses it. We continue to pray for people to come to salvation and the knowledge of the truth. (John 8:31-32.)

[V. 5] “For God is one and there is one Mediator of God and Men, that Man, Christ Jesus.” (Emphatic Diaglott) The unity of God is the foundation on which we pray for all men. The Old Testament doctrine of God’s oneness (Deut. 6:4) provides us with the following propositions: (1) Since God is one person [as opposed to three persons in one Godhead as the Trinity asserts], he alone is the one we devote our prayers to; (2) Since God is one, he is the God of all men [and women]; (3) Therefore, we pray to the one God for all [persons]. The question arises, however, concerning how we approach an unapproachable God in prayer. (1 Tim. 6:16.) Man is finite and sinful; God is infinite and sinless. Someone is needed to bridge this gap between man and God. Here is where the one Mediator fits in.

The oneness of the Mediator is a truth as important as the oneness of God. All those for whom we pray are able to know God due to Jesus’ role as Mediator. Jesus could not have been the one Mediator had he not been fully human. He is “the man, Christ Jesus.”  [Additional note: While also fully divine, as God’s Son, Jesus is not deity in substance since there is only one person who is God. “The man, Christ Jesus,” who is God’s one and only Son is the Mediator or “go-between” and therefore cannot be the one God, too. Our prayers are effective when we understand that we are praying to the one, true God through “the man, Christ [Messiah or God’s Anointed] Jesus” who gave his life for us.]

Jesus [God’s Son] is the “ransom for all,” (v. 6). He is the substitute who died for our sins so that we might live eternally in God’s coming Kingdom Age. This is “the testimony given in its proper time” (New International Version, NIV). In other words, ever since Christ commissioned his disciples to evangelize the world, this message is to be shared until Christ returns. No wonder this truth compelled Paul to be “a herald and an apostle…and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” (v. 7, NIV). It is the truth that compels us, too.

Good News to you,

Pastor Michael

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