First Things First.
I have a simple thought today, so it won’t take long to explain. It captured me as I was reading Scripture. Of course, you might say. And I would say that, too. When we go to Scripture with our hearts ready to receive, we will be captured by the truth that sets us free. I find that especially true when burdens weigh heavy on us. We want to hear from God, to get a word to sustain the weary.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, a worker in the ministry of the early church and a young man whom Paul was mentoring, a challenge was made. I Timothy 2:1 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…” The words Paul used should have the power to capture anyone- “first of all.” Let’s stop right there. There are certain words in Scripture at which we must stop. For example, words like ‘therefore’ tell us that we must go back to the preceding paragraph or chapter.
Something came to a culmination and we ought to know what that was, so that we can understand what follows ‘therefore.’ In I Timothy, we have one of those words, ‘first.’ That word is then quantified with another word, ‘all things.’ In the Greek language, the language in which the original writings of the New Testament were written, we find the word ‘proto‘ (meaning first) and ‘pan‘ (meaning all).
A prototype is a first production model in the development of something designed and engineered. A pandemic is something, often a disease, that effects all the world. So, when you put those two together, the meaning is clear- FIRST OF ALL THINGS. What is the first of all things, as here stated by Paul?
Paul gives us specifics around this subject by urging us to make ‘requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving.’ Even more specifically, Paul asks us to pray for these specific things on behalf of ALL (pan) people. For God’s people, this needs to take a prominent place. Let’s ask ourselves a few questions. Is this a priority (proto) in our lives? Are we in the habit of offering requests for others? Do we carve out time in our day to really spend time with God in prayer? Have we become too busy for that, letting the secondary things crowd our lives?
Don’t feel bad if you answered those questions in such a way that you need to make changes. It happens to me all the time. Things go haywire and the most important things drop. I get it. But also remember that we are in a spiritual battle. The enemy does NOT want us to pray. He has to flee in the presence of prayer. It’s just plain and simple that powerful. Ephesians 6:18 tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions…” This phrase follows his teaching on spiritual warfare and the need for God’s armor. Prayer is part and parcel of winning a spiritual war that we won’t rid ourselves of without Jesus’ return. James 5:16 tells us that prayer is “powerful and effective.”
Seems like I have a lot of things I’m praying through right now that need a breakthrough. Do you feel that way? Are you excessively burdened? Discouraged? Worried for the welfare of those close to you? So, keep praying and do not give up (Luke 18:1). That really is the key. Don’t let life crowd out what is so simple and so… FIRST.
Like I said, pretty simple.