2 Thessalonians 3: 1 – 5 Request for prayer
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
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Even the apostle Paul needs prayer from other believers. It’s instructive to look at what he asks the Thessalonians to pray for. He’s very definite as to the prayer that he needs.
Firstly, he says, “Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you.” Paul was commanded by God to preach the message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and how it means salvation for those who accept it. He wants with all his heart to see the church grow both in numbers and in faith, just as it has in Thessalonica.
Secondly, Paul asks the Thessalonians, “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.” The Acts of the Apostles tells us how much Paul has suffered from “wicked and evil people” for preaching the gospel. He has been flogged, stoned and imprisoned. But it’s not to avoid suffering that he wants the Thessalonians to pray. After all, if he wished to escape persecution he would stop preaching and go somewhere he wasn’t notorious.
No, he wants to be delivered from “wicked and evil people” so that he can continue telling people the good news about Jesus.
Paul knew that God’s will for him was that he should preach the gospel. What he asks the Thessalonians to do is to align their prayers for him with God’s will. After all, there were many things they could have prayed for; that Paul should be kept safe; that he should have helpers to support him; that he should be able to visit them soon; and plenty more. Such prayers would have been well-meaning, but mistaken. Prayer is effective only insofar as it agrees with God’s will. Paul recognises that he doesn’t know many things about God’s will for his ministry, just that he should spread the message of Jesus as widely as possible, and that’s what he asks the Thessalonians to pray for.
Thank you for calling us to witness to your Son, Jesus. Please strengthen us by your Holy Spirit so that we may be effective in our witness.
In Jesus’ name, Amen