1 Timothy 2:8
I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.