By Andrew B. D. Urshan
“I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayer, intercessions, thanksgiving, be made for all men.” I Timothy 2:1.
First of all, we all believe that the Apostle is writing under the inspiration of the Spirit to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. His exhortation is a vital one. It is portraying the divine system, which bears God’s will and mind concerning His people on the earth. To the end that they may: first, please their God: second, to be occupied with the effectual ministry, both toward Him and their fellow men: third, in doing so, they may reap the temporal and eternal benefits therefrom.
The Divine System
Our great God is always the God of perfect order and all His wonderful creation. Look to the heavens and see every star in its own horizon, moving, shining and declaring the glory of God. We are told that, even in the heaven of heavens, God has arranged that two archangels shall lead the legions of other angels. Look on the Earth and you will see again everything beautifully arranged. Look on your own constitution and you will observe again the perfect order of the only wise god. So God is the God of order and not a God of confusion.
Men of the world have discovered the value of system and they have adopted it for their domestic and business welfare. But it must always be remembered that God’s order and God’s system is not man’s. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord; for as the heavens are higher than your ways and my thoughts than you thoughts.” Yet it is a heaven born gift of God for man to be filled with the Spirit, will, and ways of God: and be governed by his supreme Creator and prosper in whatsoever he does. It is for this very thing he does all his actions systematically. The fact is evident in Apostle exhorts the Church that she may get in the divine order. Let us therefore heed this wise counsel and start our first of all with supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks.
Word of Explanation
Why first of all supplications? For to supplicate is to turn to God with and earnest entreat. Hence, “In the beginning God…” If we wish God to begin to bless us, we must never forget the eternal order, that God is The First. He must be recognized to be supreme before all things, and that we do all things in His holy name.
As soon as this takes place, the wonderful Creator will begin to create and recreate His good things in us and through us.
Again, to supplicate first, is not only to turn to God, recognizing Him as the one who is worthy of our first thought, word and action; but it is a confession of our absolute dependence on Him.
Supplication therefore, is the language of a trusting heart in God, and also, the language of a humble heart which runs to Him who is the all sufficient being. Such attitude and feeling in the heart of the believer in Christ is one of the most delightful thing before our Heavenly Father. Let us therefore value the Spirit given order and first of all supplicate.
Why is it the Apostle does not stop with supplications, but also pray and intercede, also give thanks? Because supplication is the keen realization of our need before God. While prayer is an act of reverence, a talk of worship before God’s majestic presence. Many people stop with supplication s and do not proceed, after making their petition known, to worship God, giving Him due their words of honour and reverence – – The Almighty, who alone can do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think. To supplicate without praying is spiritual greediness; therefore we must first of all not only supplicate, but also pray, and not only pray, but also intercede.
Now we have arrived to the third part of the Divine programmer “FIRST OF ALL” viz, intercessions. While supplication is pending, and prayer is an act of worship, yet, intercession is praying and supplication not for our own selves but wholly for other; hence the necessity of intercession. Right at this point many have failed God. They have prayed and pleaded for themselves, but have forgotten the needs of their fellow men.
The first sign of our healthy spiritual conditions is a heart full of the spirit of intercession. Wherever this gracious impulse is lacking, there is a sad lack of the Spirit of Christ and an absence of God’s unselfish love. Let us, dear ones, examine our hearts and see if we are normal in our Christian life. All the greatest men of God have been men of passionate feeling toward their neighbors; for this very cause God chose them to be the mighty channels of His gracious dealings toward men.
On this intercession we hope to write more fully later, but this will suffice just now.
Now we are ready to take up the fourth word din this blessed order of God to us, viz, “First of all – – thanksgiving be made for all men.” It should always be remembered that thanksgiving is not supplication, not prayer, neither intercession: and it should not be used at the wrong time. We have seen at times when the spirit of deep intercession has been in our revival prayer meetings, and someone would begin loudly shouting “Glory, hallelujah and praise the Lord,” repeatedly, until he quenched the spirit of prayer. Who so? Because the order of God is first of all – – supplications, prayers, intercession – – and then thanksgivings.
There is a time for everything, and to observe God’s order is a profitable thing. The real Spirit-born praise, behind which you will feel a Divine mellowness, is the thanksgiving which proceeds from a heart already broken and melted by a red hot supplication and prayer. That is why we should first at every meeting give ourselves to prayer; then the rest will follow with the glory of God behind it.
Prayer and praise should always go together. One who prays, supplicates and intercedes, but praises not God, will find himself finally sad. But after you pray earnestly both for yourself and others, then begin to leave all your requests with God and start to praise Him. You at once will feel that God surely “inhabits the praises of His people,” In other words, you will see God beginning to manifest himself in you, and you will feel God within you so that your own utterance of praise will sound sweet to yourself and you will as if your voice is heavenly music. You will get refreshed and strengthened in your body and soul. Oh praise Him! Oh thank Him! For He is good and His mercy endureth forever.
It was after the earnest prayers and intercessions of Solomon the King, with the praises of 120 Levites, that the glory of the Lord filled the newly built temple. It was after united supplications and prayers with continual praising God of 120 disciples of Christ that brought 120 fiery tongues unto them, filling them with the same glory that filled the old temple; this time more fully and abidingly, (Acts 1:14, compare with Luke 24:52, 53).
When the Apostle writes to the Philippians he comforts them almost with the same identical words, in saying: “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Then the promise of divine peace follows (Phil. 3:6-8). Again, the same Apostle writes to another church the same thing in another way, by saying: “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:17-18) You see again prayer, or supplication is first.
So does our Saviour teach us be His own prayer, which we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” He begins with words of reverence, saying: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.” Then intercession follows: “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us.” Then praise follows: “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.” These infallible scriptures are sufficient to prove that God’s real system for us is to first of all, supplicate, pray, intercede and give thanks.
The Blessed Outcome of Such a Life of Prayer and Praise
- In applying ourselves to this divine order, we will please God, and when we please Him, HE will begin to grant our petitions and please our hearts with His abundant answer to our prayers. 1 Tim. 2:33.
- He will not only bless us inwardly, but also outwardly, by giving us grace before the magistrates to work in our behalf for our peaceful domestic and business life. See verse 2.
- Best of all, He will give us many souls, which is the greatest reward in this life for a praying and interceding church or preacher. See verses 4-7.
A threefold blessing for a fourfold manner of worship. You see, it pays always to obey God and walk in His ways.
The Seeing God
Before we arrive at the conclusion of our lesson, we beg the attention of our reader to this God of whom the Apostle speaks; the God whom we should worship; the God whom we must praise, and the God whom we are to please.
There are many gods and many lords. Is this one of those little “g” gods? Who is He? This is a worthy question. The Apostle says HE is “God our Saviour.” Who is God our Saviour? He is none other than HE who said, “Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Jehovah of Hosts; I am the First and I am the Last, and beside me there is no God. Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any. Look unto me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, (why?) for I am God; there is none else. A just God and Savior; there is none beside me.” See Isaiah 44:6-8 and 45:20-25. Yea, this is the God of whom Jude, the Apostle, says, “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen”
There is yet one principal thing worthy of notice remaining in this Apostolic exhortation, and that is the condition upon which such a devotional life will be prosperous. Verse 8, “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. Oh, to pray we must, and to praise God we must, but without a holy, loving, and believing heart and actions behind it, it is all in vain.”
You will find today people everywhere have given up praying and do not praise the Lord. You ask them why they have ceased praying. They will answer, “It is no use, because God does not answer prayer. We prayed, we supplicated, we interceded, and we even waited for the answer with thanksgiving, but nothing happened, so we gave up.”
Dear reader, this will be your condition soon also, if you are not holy and kind (without wrath) and counting on God’s promises. God will not answer you , and you will fall into the pit of infidelity; therefore repent at once and be washed in the blood of Christ. Humble yourself before God and men, confessing your sins, and believe on Him who forgives the sinning soul that turns to Him, that you may actually see that your “first of all” is not eating, dressing, money making and pleasure seeking, but first of all – -supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgiving be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority – for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. Amen
First of all – supplicate.
First of all – pray.
First of all – intercede.
First of all – give thanks.
“And be ye holy, for I am holy, saith the Lord.” Amen and Amen.
The above article, “The Divine First of All,” is excerpted from the first chapter of Andrew Bar David Urshan’s book, The Supreme Need of the Hour.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.