WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – We often look up at God and see Him as a grand king busily overseeing the affairs of his vast realm: dispatching an angelic messenger here; controlling the weather there; thwarting Satan’s perverse plans in another place. And we see ourselves as His little children following Him around and occasionally tugging on His robe to get His attention to our small needs.
Here’s a picture God prefers: Though we’re aware that our Father King rules the universe, we know that His ear is always inclined to our voice and that He is always ready to gather us up in His arms or lean down into our little affairs and ask, “What can I do for you, my child?”
That’s why Jesus instructed us “to pray always and not give up” (Luke 18:1). And that’s why Paul reminds us to make prayer a priority:
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:1-3).
Paul uses three different words to describe our requests to God. I think his primary purpose in doing this is to urge us to pray always and in all ways. He taught the Ephesians: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18 NIV).
There are, however, some enlightening distinctions in the terms he used:
Petitions – In the singular, this word is a description of a particular need. In the plural (as here), it means a list of specific needs. Dear friend, God welcomes your lists. Don’t be afraid to bring them into His throne room. He is less likely to say, “This is too much” and more likely to say, “Is this all?!”
Prayers – This is a compound word from the verb to pray and the preposition toward. It focuses not so much on what is requested but upon Who is being asked. It’s often followed by “to God,” and it was characteristic of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus: “He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
Intercessions – This term emphasizes the familiarity or closeness between us and the One to whom we pray. Approach God not as if you were a stranger requiring special permission and an introduction. Come as a favored child, accustomed to the Father’s provision. Jesus reminded us of this familiarity: “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:8); but He urged us to ask anyway.
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – Much worry in our lives needs to be and can be replaced by prayer: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Do you have requests that remain unpresented to the only One who can do something about them? Make your list, even write it down, and bring it to the throne. “This is good, and it pleases God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:3).