(I Timothy 2: 1-7)
In today’s passage from his 1st Epistle to Timothy, St. Paul speaks to us on the great subject of prayer.
It is worth noting that he does not just say “to pray,” but he goes into detail on what our communication with God should be all about, namely “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks” (verse 1). Our prayers should not only be about what we need, but also giving thanks to God for all the blessings we receive, both material and spiritual.
It is true, as the Prophet Isaiah confesses, that people most often remember God when they are having a hard time and need His help; "O Lord, I remembered You in my hard circumstances." (Isaiah 26:16). This is only natural, because who else can we address, when God is the only one who can save us from our sorrows? The Lord said to us, “Ask and it shall be given to you” (see Matthew 7:7). St. Paul encourages us to appeal to God, asking His help for all we face every day. This is done by faith in God’s love, knowing He will respond to our open hearts. The Holy Gospels are full of the assurances of Christ to His disciples, that God always responds to the supplications of His children.
The truth of this is particularly emphasized by the Lord in this passage: “what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he given him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:9-11).
Therefore, we should appeal to God for everything. This does not mean our prayers should be restricted to mere requests, standing as mere beggars before God. The Holy Apostle encourages us to also give thanks for the gifts of the Lord. If we reflect on all that Our Lord gives us, either in response to our prayers or just by His grace, we will be amazed! To try and list the infinite blessings God grants to us, both personally and as a community (in society and as members of His Holy Church) can help us realize the depth of God’s Love.
Sadly, we forget the wonder of these gifts and appreciate them only when they are gone. A visit to a large hospital makes us realize how many illnesses God has preserved us from. Do those who are in good health thank God for this? There are villages and communities in the world who do not have water, and have to travel long distances to get any at all (this water is not always clean) for their needs. How many times have we given Glory to God, those who have plenty of water and need only turn on the tap? In the Spiritual life, how many blessings do we have as Orthodox Christians? How many billions of people in the world live as though Christ never came, and how many who have heard of Christ distort His word? These unfortunate people, who live separated from the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church.
Because God, as St. Paul writes in his Epistle, “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (verse 4). With this in mind, we must pray for all people. First of all, for those who rule over us and exercise power in every country (see verse 2). Remember that when St. Paul wrote this, Nero, the great persecutor of Christians, was the Roman Emperor.
My brothers and sisters, the Lord said that “without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Let us thank God for all that He has given us and continues to give. Let us turn to Him in faith for all that we need. Finally, let us pray for the whole world, especially those who rule in every country, so that with good governance, we can have a life of peace and tranquility.