1 Timothy 2:8
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or dissension.
Sermons
A Scripture Description of PrayerJ. Parsons.1 Timothy 2:8
PrayerW. Jay.1 Timothy 2:8
Prayer Without AngerJeremy Taylor.1 Timothy 2:8
Praying Everywhere1 Timothy 2:8
The Conduct of Public Prayer by MenT. Croskery 1 Timothy 2:8
Where and How to PrayAlexander Maclaren1 Timothy 2:8
Wrath and PrayerA. Vinet, D. D.1 Timothy 2:8
The Sexes in the Christian, AssemblyR. Finlayson 1 Timothy 2:8-15
The apostle now proceeds to indicate the persons by whom public prayer is to be conducted, and the spirit which is to govern this part of public worship.

I. PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLIES IS TO BE CONDUCTED BY MEN. "I wish then that prayer be made in every place by men."

1. It is for men to manage and direct the public services of the Church; it is for women to take a more quiet though not less real place in worship. As woman had been emancipated by the gospel - for there were no longer "male and female" in Christ - and as she had taken such a prominent place in ministering to Christ, the apostles, and the saints, there may have been a disposition on the part of female converts to assert themselves actively in the public life of the Church at Ephesus and elsewhere. The apostle expresses not a mere wish or desire, but, what is equivalent to a solemn command, that the men alone should be responsible for the conduct of the public services. The injunction does not affect the right or duty of women to conduct prayer in private life or in meetings of their own sex.

2. Prayer is to be made in every place. This rule is to obtain in all public assemblies of the saints, wherever held. There is, perhaps, a recollection of our Lord's words that there is to be no restriction of prayer to one holy place (John 4:21).

II. THE SPIRIT AND MANNER IN WHICH PUBLIC PRAYER IS TO BE CONDUCTED. "Lifting up holy hands without wrath or disputing."

1. The posture must be reverent. It was customary for the Jews to pray with uplifted hands. It was likewise the general attitude adopted by the early Christians. It was the attitude significant

(1) of the elevation of the heart to God;

(2) of the expectation of an answer from heaven.

2. The uplifted hands must be holy. They must be hands unstained by vice. "Cleanse your hands, purify your hearts" (James 4:8). The hands must be free from any sin that would render prayer unacceptable to God. "Wash you, make you clean" (Isaiah 1:16).

3. Prayer should be free from all passionate feeling. "Without wrath and disputing." Perhaps arising from religious altercation or debate. Prayer belongs to the peaceful heart. Faith and love are its two sustaining principles, and exclude the idea of passion against our fellow-men. - T.C.







Pray everywhere.
I. Let us consider THE SUBJECT OF ATTENTION. This is prayer. And what is prayer? Prayer is the breathing of desire towards God. Words are not essential to it. As words may be used without the heart, so the heart may be engaged where words are wanting. Words are not always necessary to inform a fellow-creature, and they are never necessary to inform God, who "searcheth the heart," and knoweth what is in the mind. What interesting looks will the hunger of the beggar at the door display! How is it in the family? You have several children: the first can come and ask for what he wants in proper language, and the second can only ask in broken terms, but here is a third who cannot speak at all: but he can point, he can look, and stretch out his little hand; he can cry, and shall he plead in vain? "No! no!" says the mother, refuse him? his dimpled cheeks, his speaking .eye, his big round tears, plead for him. Refuse him? Further, we notice the kinds of prayer. Prayer may be considered as public. There is also domestic prayer, by which we mean the prayer that is offered every morning and every evening at the family altar. Mr. Henry observes, "A house without this has no roof." Prayer may be considered as private. "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and shut thy door, and pray to thy Father which seeth in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." Prayer may be considered as ejaculatory, a darting up of the mind to God, as the word signifies. This may be done at any time, and under any circumstance. Nehemiah was the king's cup-bearer, and while he was in the room attending upon his office, he prayed to the God of heaven.

II. Observe THE INJUNCTION. "I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

III. WHERE IT IS TO BE OFFERED. "Everywhere." Now, this is opposed to restriction or respect. Let us see what we can make of it in either of these views. You remember the Assyrians thought that the God of Israel was the God of the hills, and not of the valleys. And when Balaam was baffled in one of his endeavours to curse Israel, he went to another place to see if he could be more prosperous, and to try if he could curse them from thence. You see how the devotions of the heathens always depended upon times, and places, or pilgrimages. Among the Jews, who were for a time under a Theocracy, God chose a place where He might reside, and where were the symbols of His presence, and there all the males resorted thrice in the year; but even then God said to Moses, "In all places where I record My name, I will come unto thee and bless thee." What think you of those sons and daughters of superstition and bigotry who would confine God to particular places and stations? Where was Jacob when he said, "This is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven"? Where did Paul take leave of his friends? "He kneeled down on the seashore." Where did the Saviour pray? "He went out into a private place," "He went into a desert place," "He went up into a mountain to pray." When Jones, a famous Welsh preacher, was commanded to appear before the Bishop of St. David's, the bishop said to him, "I must insist upon it that you never preach upon unconsecrated ground." "My lord," said he, " I never do; I never did; for 'the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof'; and when Immanuel came down to set His foot upon our earth, the whole was sanctified by it." God is no more a respecter of places than of persons. This should also encourage you when you are under disadvantageous circumstances. For instance, if you are called to assemble in a very poor place, or in a very small place, He Himself hath said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name" —let it be where it will — "there am I in the midst of them." But now, further, as men may pray everywhere, so they ought to pray everywhere. The injunction not only allows, but enjoins, universal prayer. The duty is more opposed to neglect than even restriction. Men should pray everywhere, because they may die everywhere. They have died in all places: they have died in a bath, they have died in a tavern, they have died upon the road, they have died in the temple of God. You are therefore to pray everywhere. But what are we to say of those who, instead of praying "everywhere," pray nowhere?

IV. Let us notice HOW THIS DUTY IS TO BE DISCHARGED. It is to be offered up under three attributes.

1. The first implies purity, "lifting up holy hands." Solomon says, "The prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord." David says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." You have heard the Dutch proverb, "Sinning will make a man leave off praying, or praying will make a man leave off sinning." These will not do well together, therefore they must be separated. It would be better for a man to neglect his benefactor than to call at his house to spit in his face, or to smite him on the cheek. James says, "Can a fountain bring forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?"

2. The second attribute is kindness. This is expressed by the opposite extreme. "Without wrath." There are those whose lives may be far from egregious vices, but whose tempers do not partake of the meekness and gentleness of Christ; they bring their rancorous spirit into their worship, and think to appease the anger of God for their uncharitableness by offering it up on the altar of devotion. "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."

3. The third attribute is confidence. This is expressed negatively: "I will that men pray everywhere," not only "without wrath," but "without doubting." Our Lord says in the Gospel by St. Matthew, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive." This confidence includes a persuasion in the lawfulness of the things we pray for. Then it takes in confidence in the power of God. "Believe ye that I am able to do this"? This confidence takes in the disposition of God towards you; you are not only to "believe that He is," but that "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Especially you must have confidence in the mediation of Christ.

(W. Jay.)

I. THE EMPLOYMENT WHICH IS HERE COMMENDED.

1. That prayer must be addressed exclusively to God. This grand truth is introduced, and ought to be solemnly and uniformly affirmed, in direct contradiction to those mistaken propensities and systems by which men have addressed invocations to idols — mere imaginary beings, or beings really existing but created and inferior.

2. Prayer must be offered to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an established and a cardinal principle in all revealed religion that man as a guilty sinner can have no access to God but through a Mediator — One whose merits, as having offered a sacrifice for sin, must be alleged as constituting a satisfactory ground for favour and acceptance.

3. Prayer offered to God through the Lord Jesus Christ must be presented by all mankind. The statement of our text is, that men are to " pray everywhere"; wherever men exist, men are to pray. The universal call to prayer arises from the fact that men are universally in precisely the same relationship to God. They are everywhere characterized by the same guilt, the same wants, the same responsibility.

II. THE SPIRIT WITH WHICH THIS EMPLOYMENT IS TO BE INSEPARABLY ASSOCIATED. "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

1. First the apostle recommends importunity. Importunity is symbolized by the figure of the "lifting up of hands" — an attitude which was practised in prayer in ancient times, as externally indicating the place from whence man expected blessing, even heaven the dwelling-place of God, and the spirit with which they desired to receive blessing, laying hold (as it were) by eagerness and by strength of what they desired to receive from Him. Who, for example, can pray for pardon, for sanctification, for knowledge, for love, for protection, for comfort, for victory over death and hell, and for the final enjoyment of a happy immortality in heaven — without importunity? It is palpable that coldness to a rightly regulated mind must be utterly and finally impracticable.

2. But again; the expressions of the apostle, when they recommend importunity, also recommend purity. "Lifting up holy hands" — these expressions, or the epithets with which the expressions we have noticed already are connected, referring to a custom, frequent or universal among the Jews as well as other Oriental nations, of carefully washing the hands before they engaged in the performance of any act of devotion, this being intended to be the sign and symbol of moral rectitude and of the preparation of the heart. Hence it is that in the Old Testament Scriptures you find a connection established between the cleanness of the hands and the purification or holiness of the heart. For instance, in the Book of Job we have this statement — "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger" — there being of course an identification between the two expressions. In the twenty-fourth Psalm David inquires thus — "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart." This being the import of the expression, we might refer it to the state, which must be rendered judicially pure or holy by the imputation of Christ's righteousness, dependence on whom we have already advocated and required; but we must especially regard it as referring to the heart, which must undergo the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, so as to be morally conformed to the character and the law of God. In all ages, God demands to be worshipped in "the beauties of holiness."

3. The apostle also recommends benevolence. "I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath." The expression "wrath" of course must be regarded as having respect to other men; we are to be careful against indulging towards them resentment or dislike, arising from whatever source, and we are to cultivate towards them the spirit of benevolence and of good-will, these prompting on their behalf intercession for their interests before the throne and in the presence of God. The apostle well knew that there is a great disposition to the indulgence of selfishness in prayer; and hence it was that he bore in the present instance his solemn protest against it.

4. The apostle at the same time recommends faith. "I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting"; the term "doubting" is placed as the converse of faith. Faith in regard to the exercise of prayer, must not merely have respect to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Mediator through whom prayer is to be presented, but must have respect to the entire testimony of God regarding prayer — in its mode, matter, and results. There may perhaps be stated certain limitations to the exercise of faith, as connected with the employment of prayer. Those limitations may justly have respect to the desires we are accustomed to present before the Divine footstool, for the impartation of what we deem temporal blessings.

III. THE REASONS BY WHICH THIS EMPLOYMENT IN THIS SPIRIT MAY ESPECIALLY BE ENFORCED.

1. First, this employment in this spirit is directly commanded by God.

2. Again; this employment in this spirit is connected with numerous and invaluable blessings. Is it not associated with blessing to ourselves, and have we not been distinctly informed that the great instrument of the continuance of spiritual blessings to us, when converted by Divine grace, has been the agency of prayer?

3. And then it must be observed that the neglect of this employment in this spirit is attended and succeeded by numerous and by fatal evils. No man is a converted man who does not pray. No man can be a happy man who does not pray. No man can possess the slightest indication of the spiritual favour of God who does not pray.

(J. Parsons.)

"Anger," says he, "is a short madness, and an eternal enemy to discourse and a fair conversation: it is a fever in the heart, and a calenture in the head, and a sword in the hand, and a fury all over and therefore can never suffer a man to be in a disposition to pray. For prayer is the peace of our spirits, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our temper; prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts: it is the daughter of charity and the sister of meekness: and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upwards, and singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and rise above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, till the little creature was. forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over: and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel."

(Jeremy Taylor.)

Forty years ago, Audubon, the distinguished American naturalist, was pursuing his vocation in a wild, remote, and, as he believed, perfectly uninhabited district of Labrador. Rising up from the bare ground after a cold night's rest he beheld, on one of the granite rocks which strew that desolate plain, the form of a man accurately outlined against the dawn, his head raised to heaven, his hands clasped and beseeching. Before this rapt and imploring figure stood a small monument of unhewn stones supporting a wooden cross. The only dweller on that inhospitable shore had come out from his hut to the open air, that without barrier or hindrance his solitary supplication might go up directly unto Him who does not dwell in the temples that are made with hands.

Prayer is represented in the gospel as a holy and solemn act, which we cannot surround with too many safeguards, in order to prevent anything of a profane and worldly nature from interfering with the reverential freedom of this con verse between the creature and its Creator. Prayer prepares for acts of self-denial, courage, and charity, and these in their turn prepare for prayer, No one should be surprised at this double relation between prayer and life. Is it not natural that we should retire to be with God, that we may renew our sense of His presence, draw on the treasures of light and strength which He opens to every heart that implores Him, and afterwards return to active life, better provided with love and wisdom? On the other hand, is it not natural that we should prepare by purity of conduct to lift up pure hands to God, and carefully keep aloof from everything that might render this important and necessary act either difficult, or formidable, or useless? The words introduced at the end of the verse so unexpectedly, and which we believe, for a moment, excite surprise in every reader these words, "without wrath and doubting," contain a very marked and impressive allusion to the circumstances in which Christians were then placed. The question is anew brought before you at every new attack of your enemies; in other words, every new attack will necessarily tempt you to wrath and disputation as you are men, if it do not urge you to prayer as you are Christians. You cannot escape from wrath except by prayer, nor from hatred except by love; and not to be a murderer, since hatred is murder, you must as much as in you lies give life to him to whom you wished to give death. At least it is necessary to ask it for him, it is necessary by your prayers to beget him to a new existence; it is necessary in all cases, while praying for him, to exert yourselves in loving him. It is necessary that wrath and disputation be extinguished and die away in prayer. Two classes of men may excite in us wrath and disputation. The former are the enemies of our persons, those who, from interest, envy, or revenge, are opposed to our happiness, and more generally all those who have done us wrong, or against whom we have ground of complaint. The latter are those who become our enemies from the opposition of their views and opinions to ours, or the opposition of their conduct to our wishes. Both are to us occasions of wrath and disputation. The gospel requires that they be to us occasions of prayer. In regard to the former, I mean our personal enemies, I might simply observe that God does not know them as our enemies. God does not enter into our passions, or espouse our resentments. He sanctions and approves all the relations which He has Himself created, those of parent and child, husband and wife, sovereign and subject. But the impious relation of enemy to enemy is entirely our work, or rather the work of the devil. God knows it only to denounce it. Besides, in His eye the whole body of mankind are only men, and some in the relation which they stand to each other, only brethren. You would wish to pray for your friends alone; but this very prayer is forbidden, and remains impossible, if you do not extend it to your enemies. And if you persist in excluding them from your prayers, be assured that God will not even accept those which you offer to Him in behalf of the persons whom you love. Your supplications will be rejected; the smoke of your offering will fall back upon your offering; your desires will not reach that paternal heart which is ever open. Not only ought we to pray for our enemies, although they be our enemies; but we ought to pray for them "because they are our enemies. As soon as they again become to us like the rest of mankind another distinction takes place, and a new right arises in their favour. They are confounded for a moment with all our other fellows, in order afterwards to stand forth from the general mass as privileged beings, with a special title to our prayers. When we meet with an opposition which frets and irritates us, Christian prudence counsels us to pray that the temptation may be removed; and, in particular, that our self-love and injured feelings may not weaken our love for our neighbour. But this prudence, if it counsels nothing further, is not prudent enough. If the same feeling which disposes us to pray does not dispose us to pray for our enemies or opponents, it is difficult to believe that it is a movement of charity. Charity cannot be thus arrested. Its nature is to overcome evil with good, and this means not merely that it does not render evil for evil, but that in return for evil it renders good. It would not be charity if it did less. Its first step overleaps the imaginary limit which it does not even see or know. It does not restrict itself to not hating; it loves. It would not do enough if it did not do more than enough. Can we renew our hatred for one for whom we have prayed? Does not every desire, every request which we send up to God for him endear him to us the more? Does not each prayer set him more beyond the reach of our passions? No; not till then is the work of mercy accomplished. We have no evidence of having pardoned an enemy until we have prayed for him. For to allege the gravity, the extent of the offence which we have received, has no plausibility. If we have brought ourselves to pardon him who has committed it, we might surely bring ourselves to pray for him; and if we cannot pray for him we have not pardoned him. An offence! But think well of it; can we really be offended? The term is too lofty, too grand for us. The offence may have grated very painfully on our feelings, or thwarted our interests, but it has gone no farther. Whatever injustice may have been done us, whatever cause we may have to complain, that is not the real evil. What evil absolutely is there in having our faith tried and our patience exercised? Because our fortune has been curtailed, our reputation compromised, our affections thwarted, does the world go on less regularly than it did? Not at all. The evil, the only real evil is the sin of that soul, the infraction of the eternal law, the violence offered to Divine order; and if any other evil is to be added to this, it will be by our murmurings, since the effect of them will be to make two sinners in place of one. Do you then seek a reason for refusing your intercession, and consequently your pardon to your adversaries? I have found one, and it is a fit ground for resentment: God your Father was insulted in the insult which you experienced. But show me, pray, the extraordinary man who, quite ready to pardon on his own account, cannot resolve to pardon on God's account! It may belong to God to be angry with them; us it becomes only to pity them, and pity them the more, the more grievously God has been offended. But alas! instead of seeing in the injury which we have received only an injury done to God, we insolently appropriate to ourselves the offence of which He alone is the object. In what hurts Him we feel ourselves offended, and consequently become angry, instead of being grieved. It will be well if, instead of praying, we have not cursed! Contrast the ordinary fruits of wrath and debate with these results of prayer. In yielding to the former, not only do you place yourself in opposition to the holy law of God, but you destroy the peace of your life and the peace of your soul; you aggravate the evils of a situation already deplorable; you kindle up hatred in the heart of your enemy; you render reconciliation on his part, as well as on yours, always more difficult; you run from sin to sin in order to lull your pride, and this pride gives you only a bitter, poisoned, and criminal enjoyment. How much better, then, is prayer than wrath and strife! But personal enemies are not the only ones who are to us the occasion of wrath and strife. The class of enemies, as we have already said, includes all those whose opinions, views, and conduct are in opposition to our interests or our principles. How little does the impatience which they excite differ from hatred! With regard to such enemies, our usual method is to hate in silence if we feel ourselves weak, or to dispute obstinately if we believe ourselves strong. The gospel proposes another method. It approves neither of hatred nor strife. Zeal, courage, perseverance, indignation itself, must all be pervaded with charity, or rather, proceed from charity. Indignation and prayer must spring from a common source; the former from love to God, the latter from love to men, and consequently both from love. How widely different is this conduct from that which is commonly pursued in the world! Let Government commit an error, it is greedily laid hold of and bitterly commented on; and this is all that is done. Let a religious teacher profess a system which is judged dangerous; his minutest expressions are laid hold of, and isolated so as to distort their meaning; his life is boldly explained by his opinions, or his opinions by his life, and there the matter rests. To pray, to entreat the Lord to shed His enlightening Spirit on this government, on that teacher, on that individual; to wrestle for them in presence of the Divine mercy, ah! this is what is seldom thought of. Ah! the Divine Intercessor must have fully established His abode in the soul before the spirit of intercession can dwell there! How difficult is it for the old leaven to lose its sourness! What seeds of hatred, what homicidal germs are in the heart which has received Jesus Christ! How much of Cain still remains in this pretended Abel! And what avails it to believe much if we love little, or to believe if we do not love? And truly, what have we believed, in whom have we believed, if we do not love?

(A. Vinet, D. D.)

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