I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
1 Timothy 1:2, NLT*
Paul begins most of his letters with a variant of these words, before getting into the meat of what he has to say. I always thought it was an overall blessing, kind of a loving way to say “hello”.
What if it’s more than that? His letters are very specific in terms of teaching and instruction. He doesn’t seem the type to open with generic fluff.
Today I think this prayer for “grace, mercy and peace” is not only not a pleasantry, it’s a carefully-targeted prayer for Timothy’s needs.
The letter goes on to advise Timothy in his conduct and duties, but the “working out” won’t be effective without the inner working of the Holy Spirit in answer to Paul’s request here.
We often pray for detailed needs and results, and rightly so. But I take Paul’s prayer here as a reminder to ask for these essential gifts of God—grace, mercy, peace etc—as well. Often we don’t know how to pray, or we think we do but our ideas may not match God’s.
Paul reassures me that it’s not a cop-out to pray for these larger, intangible blessings that will work themselves out in lives and in situations according to God’s sovereign will and purposes. It may instead be the foundation for what comes next.
God who is the source of grace, mercy and peace, pour these gifts on us so that we can understand and obey the teaching of Your Word. Thank You for the reminder that what we do in our own strength won’t amount to much. We need Your touch, and You so readily give it when we remember to ask. Grant us Your blessing, we pray.
This week’s song is “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” performed here by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.