A Prayer of Encouragement
“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:3-7
While we still have a couple more prayers to study of Paul’s we are nearing the end. I learned in commentary that Paul was also nearing the end of his life when he wrote this letter that included a couple of prayers to Timothy. When you know that it brings just a little more urgency to this prayer. Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the second time when he wrote this prayer. He knew that he would soon be executed and therefore, he knew that this would possibly be his last letter to Timothy. Remember he loved Timothy like a son.
Paul first reminds Timothy that he still serves God. Maybe he felt he needed to assure Timothy that even though he was imprisoned again, that he was still serving God from his prison cell. There was no wavering for Paul, just because the going got tough. He also mentions “with a clear conscience”. Paul’s conscience was clear. He knew he had done no wrong in God’s eyes so even though he was in prison, and he would be executed soon, he had a peace since his conscience was clear. He then points out that he is remembering Timothy “constantly – night and day”. Now many people may argue that it would be easier to pray night and day from prison as you would have nothing else to do. But it could be just the opposite. Bitterness could creep in too as Paul knew he had done no wrong, so why wouldn’t God rescue him. Praying night and day had become a way of life for Paul and hard times didn’t change that.
The next statement is ~ “As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.” Chances are Timothy cried at the last parting he had had with Paul. It may have been that at that last parting, Timothy knew it would be the last, or just that Timothy relied so much on Paul’s wisdom and friendship that it moved him to tears. At any rate, Paul remembered those tears and he really wanted to see Timothy again so that he could enjoy his presence. I have friends like that. Friends that I have done a lot of life with, so much that I almost want to cry when we part, I long to see them in between so that we can be filled with joy at just being together again.
Paul also reminds Timothy of his legacy of faith. Timothy learned about Jesus through his grandmother, Lois and mother Eunice. He knew Jesus before he knew Paul. Paul is wanting to remind Timothy that he has that legacy. My impression of Timothy is that he was quiet, possibly a little shy, very non-assuming. And possibly that made serving in ministry a little harder for him because, maybe he just had a hard time standing up and talking in front of people. By reminding him that he has this legacy of faith already, Paul may be reminding him that he knows the scriptures. He knows what to say when he preaches and serves. This legacy is important. It is important to teach our children and grandchildren about Jesus and the scriptures. It gives a foundation for them as they grow older. This is not to say that God cannot use those who don’t have that legacy, but when the legacy is there, there is a foundation built. I have seen, even in my own family those who turned their back from what they were taught for a season, but when the foundation of Christ is in their life already, the fall from grace, ends up being a fall into grace. This also reminds me, as a grandmother, that even though the raising of their children is left up to my kids, and they are doing a great job with the raising and the discipline and building character in their children, that I have a role to play to by instilling this legacy of faith into them.
And lastly in this prayer, Paul reminds Timothy that after he had the foundation that he also had received a laying on of hands by Paul, to fan the flame of the gifts he already had. Timothy’s natural personality may have been a little shy and fearful, but Paul is reminding him that that fear is not from God. That God doesn’t give us fear, God gives us power, love and self-control. Paul gives us the power to live out the purpose that is His will for our lives. He loves us with an ever-lasting love and He gives us that love so that we can love others! And God gives us self-control. We don’t get to make excuses of our character flaws by saying “this is just me, this is how God made me”. Nope, through God we have self-control to work on our own character flaws, whether it be the timidity of standing in front of a crowd, or anger issues, or running our mouth too much, or whatever we have that is not a Godly trait.
This is a great prayer to pray for someone you know who is needing to fan into flame his gifts and to pray for ourselves, if we need to fan into flame our own gifts!