As our nation heads into deeper economic and international troubles, we who call ourselves Christians have to be prepared by a strong faith and an active prayer life. I have turned to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones recently because we have record of messages he gave out of such a national malaise, England under attack during WW2. It is one thing to ponder, "What would we do if we were attacked or God permitted persecution?" It is another thing when that actually occurs. One of the most important activities we believers can do is to pray. Building on 1 Timothy 2:8, Lloyd-Jones unfolds three conditions which govern the activity of prayer:
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.
The three conditions are, 1) lifting holy hands, 2) without anger, or 3) quarreling. I will give just a brief summary of each:
There is nothing which is so utterly contrary to the whole teaching of the Bible as the assumption that anyone, and at any time, without any conditions whatsoever, may approach God in prayer. . . . The promises of God are never without condition. God has not promised to grant us all our requests unconditionally; and the first condition is ever this one of the "holy hands." [So we need to deal with our own sin first]
Without Anger (Wrath)
It does not mean so much anger, or the expression or manifestation of anger, as an unloving disposition--not a violent outburst of temper, but rather a "settled condition of ill-will and resentment." Here, the emphasis is not upon the way in which a man regards God, and approaches Him, but on the way in which he approaches and regards his fellow-men, his neighbors.[Here, then is a call for reconciliation with our brother, so that we can pray]
Without Quarreling (Disputing)
The reference is not to disputing with others, but to disputing with oneself. It denotes a state of wavering and uncertainty, or, perhaps, even a state of actual intellectual rebellion. . . . As a result of these doubts [about God, or if prayer is useless, etc.], whether only one of them, or all of them together, it often comes to pass that prayer is nothing but some desperate adventure of doubtful experiment in which we engage.[MLJ then goes on to say that some will try faith because it worked for someone else] Prayer is not meant to be the doubtful experiment that may lead to faith and belief; it is rather the expression, and the outcome, of a faith that not only believes in God, but is also prepared to trust its all to Him and to his holy will. To pray to God in order to discover whether prayer works or not is an insult to God. . . . The men whose prayers have been answered have always been those who knew God, those who have trusted Him most thoroughly, those who have been most ready to say at all times and in all circumstances "Thy will be done," assured as they were of His holy and loving purpose.