“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone…” 1 Timothy 2:1
While journaling this mornings verses I came across some commentary that was particularly insightful and I wanted to share it with you all. I’ve been using a new Bible, the Ancient Faith Bible, all the footnotes are from the ancient church fathers, some of the churches earliest theologians. What I’ve loved about this bible is that it has been slowing me down even more as I do my journaling. The slowing down is the best part of journaling the word but even in that I can become so accustomed to what I’m writing that I breeze past important aspects of the text. This mornings verses, verse 1 in particular, are like that.
Whenever I see a list in a text my mind tends to speed up while reading it, especially if it’s words I feel familiar with, as was the case this morning. But thank goodness for the insight of the early church fathers who hadn’t become overly accustomed to these terms.
Origen is one of those early church fathers. Origen was born in the year 185 to a christian home and at age 17 he saw his father martyred for his faith by being beheaded. He decided then that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and die a martyrs death too. His mother had other ideas and hid his clothes to keep him from leaving the house to carry out his fatal plan. And it’s a good thing she did because at 18 he opened a grammar school to instruct those seeking to become members of the church. He is considered to have written “one of the finest defenses of Christianity produced in the early church” (Ancient Faith Bible biography of Origen, p.1610-1611).
According to Origen, what we have here is four distinct types of prayer that make up a cohesive whole when taken together.
1. Petitions, or supplication - a prayer offered with a special request for something a person lacks.
2. Prayers - more plainly offered with simple praise, not to obtain a request but simply
to praise the nobility of great things.
3. Intercession - a petition for certain things addressed to God by someone who has some greater boldness… (perhaps because they stand outside of said need??).
4. Thanksgiving - a statement of gratitude made with prayers for receiving good things
from God, either when it is a great thing that is received and acknowledged with gratitude or when the greatness of the benefit is apparent only to the one who has
So here is my interpretation of what Origen has laid out for us in this verse -
* petitions tend to be for myself, what do I lack? I need only ask my Father.
* prayers are my praise and worship to him for who He is and what He’s done, for me and for the world, specific and common grace received.
* intercession is me boldly approaching the throne on behalf of someone else and their
* thanksgiving is my response for specific physical/tangible needs met for myself and others, answers to my intercession. But also for the more personal benefits regarding
answers to the petitions I have made for myself, petitions to be helped in growing in
grace and sanctification.
If you’re someone who likes acronyms in order to remember things, this model of prayer would be called SPIT, not exactly pretty but catchy and hard to forget.
S - supplication, get my own needs off my chest first.
P - prayers of praise and worship that I have a good Father that is never put off by me dumping my junk first!
I - intercession, praying for the needs of others as if they were my own.
T - thanksgiving, thanking God for the answers to prayer for myself and others and for the incredible privilege of bringing everything to Him.
I just had some dental work done on Monday and repeatedly the hygienist asked me if I needed to spit, to rinse and remove that gritty junk out of my mouth, spitting that stuff out is such a relief, isn’t it? Likewise, spitting out my supplication, prayers of praise, intercession, and thanksgiving is meant to be a relief too. We get it out of our heads and our hearts to our loving Father who is waiting to hear it all and to act on our behalf.
So if you don’t do anything else today, remember to SPIT!