What is “First of All” for Any Church?

If you were mentoring a man to be a pastor, giving him advice for church leadership priorities, what would you tell him to focus on “first of all”? Is preaching the most important thing? What about teaching? Or evangelism? Or training disciples, counseling, or something else? These priorities, along with others, are important for any church. But which one deserves attention “first of all”?

Thankfully, we have an answer.

Paul wrote two letters to a man named Timothy, whom he was mentoring as a pastor. In these letters, he outlined instructions to Timothy for how conduct himself as a pastor and how to prioritize the affairs of the church(es) that he served (1 Tim. 3:15). In the first letter, he wrote this:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men… (1 Timothy 2:1).

Do you see it? Do you see the answer to our question? Paul tells Timothy to give attention “first of all” to prayer. These words underscore the primary importance of prayer. They indicate that prayer, not preaching or something else, is the most important priority for any church.

Prayer, not preaching or something else, is the most important priority for any church.

Prayer is a common church practice. But is it central? Is it primary? Any pastor would benefit from a careful, prayerful study of this passage (1 Tim. 2:1-10). And any church would benefit from focused teaching from this passage. If you do this, here is what you will discover:

  • Paul explains the importance of all kinds of prayer (“supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks”).
  • He encourages prayer for all kinds of people (“all men”).
  • He mentions several compelling reasons for the importance of prayer (1 Tim. 2:2-7).
  • He provides specific prayer instructions for men (1 Tim. 2:8).
  • He provides specific prayer instructions for women (1 Tim. 2:9-10).

A pastor and church that learns to give attention to prayer as the first priority follows the pattern encouraged by Scripture. Do you?

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