Finally, brothers, pray …

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men …

Prayer was so important to Paul. From the Hebrew Scriptures, he was regularly reminded of the power and joy of prayer. Who wouldn’t want to pray like Abraham beside his altar, Moses in his tent, Miriam on the beach, Hannah at her tabernacle, Solomon before his temple, Elijah on his mountain, Daniel in his room, and the cherubim and seraphim about the throne? These were the heroes and heroines of the Old Testament. They were saints of God granted access to God’s holy mountain. These were friends of the Father who were encouraged to call upon the name of the Lord. They were God’s Chosen Nation and they had God’s ear; he heard all their questions, complaints, laments, supplications, and songs. What a gracious privilege it was to enter God’s courts and pray, and Paul knew this all to well.

Then, from the other disciples and their scribes, Paul learned of Jesus’ personal prayer life. He heard of Jesus’ prayer at his baptism, his prayer before and during the forty days of temptation, his supplications before his feedings, healings, and exorcisims, and his prayer-walks into the hills. Perhaps it was from Peter that he learned of Jesus’ special prayer and communion on the Mount of Transfiguration. And how moved his must have been in hearing John’s account of Jesus’ agonizing conversations in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. Yes, Paul learned that Jesus was the perfect worshiper; he was one filled with the Spirit without measure, and he was consistently on his knees and face before his Father in heaven. Paul learned how important prayer was to the Son of God.

Additionally, Paul witnessed the prayer of several New Testament saints. He had a front row seat as Stephen prayed for all the antichrists who were throwing stones at him. Then, he could not forget the day when Ananias prayed for him and he regaining his sight. Early on, Paul was encouraged by the saints to pray.

Then, for a long season of time, Paul was led into the dessert to be discipled by Christ and his Spirit. There, Paul learned theology, and there he learned to really pray. So, from that point on, Paul could be found praying before he traveled, before he preached, beside sickbeds, behind prison cells, and while he wrote letters. In his writings, he regularly commented on consistent prayer for his readers. In his letters, he almost always led them in at least one prayer. And in most of them, he requested that they pray to the Father for him and his fellows. Yes, prayer was vitally important to Paul, and this is why in his final letter to his Thessalonian brothers and sisters, he ends with the final request:

Paul, the great apostle was absolutely sure that no ministry profit could be realized apart from the working of the Holy Spirit. In addition, he was absolutely sure prayer came with the power to stand in the day of testing, temptation, trial, and tribulation. Paul knew how the Holy Spirit loved to honor the prayer of his saints, Therefore, Paul grew to become a humble Christian, gracious evangelist, tender pastor, brilliant theologian, heroic apologist, global missionary, prolific church planter, developer of leaders, and prayer warrior.

Oh my friends, isn’t God glorious? Shouldn’t we hallow the name of our Father and rejoice in our gracious election, thorough redemption, immutable adoption, and powerful preservation? Find a quiet place right now, and give him praise.

Today, wouldn’t we like to see more of God’s kingdom and will practiced on earth today as it is in heaven? Don’t we hate the devil, his ways, and the pain it causes? Wouldn’t we like to see God’s victorious hand showing itself more as a direct result of our supplications? Pray!

Do we need daily bread and provision today? Did God give us such yesterday? Should we not take a moment and give thanks before presenting our vocational, financial, physical, and relational needs?

Can’t we slow down for a moment and consider God’s good laws and our bad sins? Right now is a good time for us to seriously consider and confess our transgressions followed by joyful Gospel repentance. Yes, sinful saints, why not talk with God about forgiveness — his forgiveness of us and our delight to forgive others who have sinned against us?

Don’t we want to love holiness more and practice it more consistently? Then let us pray that we might be removed from temptation or given the grace to stand in the face of the Evil One. Jesus, can we be more like you? Can we practice more consistently the righteousness you have granted us?

Then, how about wisdom? Surely we need such today!

Finally, what about Gospel success — evangelistic fruit, church health, and kingdom growth? Wouldn’t we like to see the “Word of the Lord speed ahead and be honored” by our children, our grandchildren, our fellow worshipers, our neighbors, and our nation? Well, hear Paul again …

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men …

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