(If men will pray 7)
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling… 1 Timothy 2.8
We might wonder why Paul is so emphatic in urging men to pray, and not men and women (see how, in v. 9, he turns his attention to the women of Ephesus).
I suspect the answer is that Paul knew the women of Ephesus, that they were already praying as they should. He didn’t need to direct a special word of instruction to them.
And this remains the situation today. Call a meeting for prayer, and 90% of those who show up will be women. It’s not that prayer comes more naturally to women, because men and women alike are capable of prayer. It’s rather that, for some reason, women understand the importance of prayer, and they tend to be more faithful in practicing it than men are (cf. Paul’s experience in Philippi, Acts 16.13).
But this begs the question: Why don’t men pray?
I know that men pray; apparently, however, they don’t pray as much as they should, at least, not as much as Paul thinks they should.
So why not? Why don’t men pray?
I can think of four reasons. First, they don’t understand prayer or how important it is in the life of faith. That’s easy enough to remedy. Jesus and the Apostles provide much teaching on prayer and how to pray. If I might just summarize:
We are commanded to pray and provided outlines and precepts to guide us (Lk. 11.1-13).
Prayers should be wrapped in thanksgiving (Phil. 4.6, 7).
We should aim at maintaining an ongoing attitude of prayer (1 Thess. 5.17).
We should pray always and not grow weary in it (Lk. 18.1-8).
We should expect much benefit to come when we pray like this in faith (Matt. 21.22; Jms. 5.16).
Second, men don’t pray because they’re just too busy. Prayer is not more important to them than what they’re already doing with their time. They have too much else on their mind or they’re not willing to invest more of their available time in prayer.
But if prayer is as important as Jesus and the Apostles seem to think it is, should not men re-assess their priorities and find more time for prayer? Perhaps if they made how they use their time a focus of prayer, the Lord might show them ways to find more time to pray (Ps. 90.12).
Third, men don’t pray because they’re not really persuaded that prayer matters. They’ve tried it, and, frankly, they’re not convinced they need more of it. Paul, of course, disagrees, as I’ve been at pains to point out in this series. It’s perhaps easy for a man to convince himself that prayer doesn’t work and therefore he doesn’t need to pray any more than he already does.
But try convincing Paul of that. Or Jesus.
Finally, men don’t pray because they don’t want to pray. Put more bluntly, men don’t pray because they prefer to disobey God, both when He, through His Son and Apostles, commands them to pray, and when He holds out the prospects of how their prayers might benefit all the people they love, as well as folks they don’t even know.
Given what God has commanded regarding prayer, and what He promises through it, for men not to pray can only be a matter either of ignorance, wrong priorities, unbelief, or disobedience.
Put another way, there are no good reasons for men not to pray any more than they do.
So I wonder: Which is it with you?
T. M. Moore, Principle