At the church where I serve as Pastor, we have been studying 1 Timothy on Wednesday nights. This has been so good to look at for our church. This letter was written by an experienced pastor (Paul) to a younger pastor (Timothy) to encourage him.
As you come to the second chapter, one can see that Paul makes a shift in the focus. Chapter 1 focused on the gospel and battling false teachers from outside. In chapter 2, Paul turns his attention to the work within the church.
When you think about all of the “ministries” that could be in the local church, it can be a little overwhelming. There can be ministries of preaching, teaching, small groups, youth, children, senior adults, music, and on and on… What is the most important ministry of the local church? What would be the one ministry that the church could not do without?
Paul starts 1 Timothy 2 out with a very clear phrase: “first of all” (NASB). Paul uses this phrase to show the importance of prayer in the local church. It is interesting to me that he did not mention any of the other “ministries” right here, but he centered in on prayer. It’s not that other ministries are not important. It is the fact that if the church isn’t praying, the other ministries will not function properly.
It is sad that in many cases where a local church has different services throughout the week, the one that is typically least attended is the prayer meeting. There are various excuses that people give, but what I’ve heard most is that “there’s not much going on in the service.” I believe that this reveals a consumeristic mindset that is present in many congregations.
The truth is prayer is so much more than a filler or tradition. Prayer is the power cord of the church. Without the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the church cannot do anything. They may go through some motions, but for anything to truly happen, the Holy Spirit has to be behind it. The way this happens is when the church prays faithfully. Paul knew this and reminded young Timothy to prioritize prayer in the local church.
Does the local church that you are a part of prioritize prayer, or is it more of a religious filler?