Yesterday I wrote that a man’s most difficult struggle is prayer. While prayer is a weakness for Christian men and women, at least three New Testament passage reveal a gender specific relationship between men and prayer.
Titus 2:6 (connected with 1 Peter 4:7)
When I addressed the ladies at the beginning of our Biblical Manhood/Womanhood series I went immediately to Titus 2. There Paul gives instructions through Titus to the various groups in the Cretan churches. I pointed out to the young women that all their various obligations center around the home.
But the younger men have one objective in verse 6 and it has no limitations or focus on a place. Instead it aims at a young man’s mind.
Urge younger men to be self-controlled.
Young men are to be self-controlled or “sober-minded.” The idea is to use one’s head with a focus on restraint, composure, and a practical kind of seriousness.
Probably more than anything else, young men today lack self-control. Instead they are lighthearted, careless, inattentive, concerned with the trivial, and self-indulgent. The requirement of self-control has benefits across the whole of a young man’s life, but we shouldn’t overlook the connection between self-control and praying. That link is made in 1 Peter 4:7.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Self-control has benefits in all a man’s life, but self-control is especially important when it comes to prayer. Men must be self-controlled so they can pray. Prayer is that important for a man.
Obviously we had to take a logical step from Titus 2:6 to 1 Peter 4:7. But there are at least two more passages that reveal an explicit relationship between godly men and prayer.
1 Peter 3:7
Peter starts chapter 3 with some instructions for married people, for the women and for the men. He devoted the first six verses to the women and wrote just one to the men (perhaps that has something to do with our short attention span). Nevertheless his instruction to the men is short and sweet.
husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
This is amazing. Peter gives instruction to both the women and the men: women are to be submissive to their own husbands and men are to be thoughtful, appreciative, and considerate to their wives. And notice that both responsibilities have a purpose. In verse 1 women are to submit so that (the unbelieving husbands) may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives. That is powerful submission! God may use a woman’s submission to save her husband. So wouldn’t we expect something similar as a purpose for the man’s right treatment of his wife? Shouldn’t we read something like, “live with your wives in an understanding way so that she may be won by your considerate conduct”? But instead the purpose is so that your prayers may not be hindered.
A couple things stand out about this. First, Peter assumes that the men were already praying. He doesn’t say “so that you can start to pray” but that you can keep praying unhindered. Second, Peter implies that disrupted prayer is a tragedy, similar to the tragedy of an unbelieving life. On the other hand, unhindered prayer is (at least loosely) compared to salvation! Whether these unhindered prayers are the husbands personal prayers (which I tend to think) or family prayers the husband leads, prayer for men is a consummate work. Men must not let anything hinder their prayers–even the closest earthly relationship they have. That’s how significant prayer is for a man.
1 Timothy 2:8
One more passage demonstrates that men and prayer and inextricably linked. In 1 Timothy 2 Paul gave instructions for various groups in the church. After urging that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people” and fleshing that out in verses 1-7, he describes special duties for women and men in verse 8-15.
For sake of comparison we see that the women are supposed to adorn themselves with certain character traits and good works. This is no throw-away instruction. It drills to the core of what is important for a woman. Likewise, at the center of importance for men is the charge to pray.
The men were to pray in every place. This was the responsibility of men in each of the churches all across the region. Men must pray lifting up holy hands which is a reference not so much to the position or posture or prayer, but to their character, since “hands” was a way to talk about one’s life, the things one touches. So men are to pray with a holy life. And they are to pray without anger or quarreling. The bottom line is, godly men pray.
Manliness, prayerfulness, and godliness go together. And again, even though prayer is no less fundamental for biblical femininity, tomorrow we’ll consider why praying is especially essential for a man.