When I was in college a hurricane came through town and did a lot of damage. Roofs were stripped away by gale-force winds. Trees were toppled on homes and businesses. Some roads were closed for days. Afterward, I lived in a house with five other guys for days without power. It was all pretty exciting, really. Before the weather turned, I can remember waiting for the storm, but nothing was happening. We kept going outside, looking at the sky, but it was calm. All was quiet and peaceful, and we were disappointed.
There is a lot of teaching on prayer in 1 Timothy 2. Some of it is obvious. Other parts are challenging. Some is controversial. But there is one teaching here that, if we are not careful, we will pass by and miss something important.
Keep in mind that Paul is mentoring Timothy, a young pastor. His letters to young Timothy are full of wisdom, instruction, commands, helpful advice, and encouragement. This is what you would expect from Paul, the older, more seasoned minister of the gospel, compared to one who was still a little wet behind the ears.
Right before chapter 2 begins, Paul charges Timothy to hold on to his faith, to not be like others who have made a wreck of their faith. I mention this because the first words in this chapter are, “First of all, then…,” followed by instructions on prayer. And what is the end of those prayers? Why is this so important? So that we may “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (v. 1).
Think about that logic.
Hold onto the faith. Don’t shipwreck your life. You and your people need to pray for everyone so you may lead a quiet, peaceful life.
Who teaches this? Most people teach that the way to an exciting life is not through quietly and prayerfully holding onto your faith. Most will teach you to live out loud for Jesus—to live boldly, implying that you need to make a ruckus for God. But Paul paints a different picture of what the prayers of a person of faith give us; those prayers lead to a quiet and peaceful life.
Quiet and peaceful sound like nothing is happening. Quiet and peaceful sound boring, not exciting. Quiet can lead to a life in which, if excitement is the standard, disappointment is sure to follow. This can be hard for anyone who wants to live an exciting life. But for Christians, Paul seems to think link this quiet and peaceful life with godliness—with not wrecking our spiritual lives.
Because our culture and our flesh tell us that spirituality is where the action is. But Paul and the rest of the Scriptures show us that, as Eugene Peterson says, “Prayer gets us in on what God is doing.” The world is after action. God is after prayerful faith displayed in a quiet and peaceful life.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond