"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
A Prayer Requested, A Prayer Rendered (3:1-5) INTRODUCTION 1. On several occasions already, Paul has expressed prayers on the behalf of the Thessalonians... a. That they might increase and abound in love - 1Th 3:11 b. That the Lord might establish their hearts blameless in holiness - 1Th 3:12 c. That God might sanctify them completely - 1Th 5:23 d. That God might count them worthy of His calling - 2Th 2:11 e. That the name of the Lord might be glorified in them, and they in Him - 2Th 2:12 f. That Jesus and the Father might comfort their hearts and establish them in every good word and work - 2Th 2:16-17 2. That preachers prayed for their brethren was not an uncommon practice... a. Paul prayed for his brethren often - cf. Col 1:9-11 b. Epaphras also - cf. Col 4:12-13 3. Preachers need prayers also, and Paul did not hesitate to ask his brethren to pray for him... a. He asked those in Rome to pray for him - Ro 15:30-33 b. He asked those in Ephesus for their prayers - Ep 6:18-20 c. He asked those in Colosse to offer prayers in his behalf - Col 4: 2-4 [As we continue our study of 2nd Thessalonians, we find Paul making a similar request for prayer...] I. A PRAYER REQUESTED (1-2) A. FOR THE WORD OF GOD... 1. That the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified - 2Th 3:1a a. Paul wanted the gospel to spread unhindered b. He believed the Lord could "open doors" for the Word 1) As He had done in the past - cf. 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12 2) As Paul hoped He would in the future - cf. Col 4:3 2. As it was in their case - 2Th 3:1b a. Paul's coming to them had not been in vain - cf. 1Th 2:1 b. They had received the Word - cf. 1Th 2:13 c. Indeed, the Word resounded from them into other areas - cf. 1Th 1:8 -- As preachers seek to spread the gospel, we need to pray that the Word will "run swiftly" (i.e., have free course) B. FOR THE MEN OF GOD... 1. That they be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men - 2 Th 3:2a a. Paul had his share of such men, especially in Thessalonica 1) Who forced him to leave town - Ac 17:5-10 2) Who followed him to other towns - Ac 17:13 b. For this reason, Paul beseeched his brethren to pray in his behalf: 1) For deliverance, where possible - 2Th 3:2 2) For boldness, when necessary - cf. Ep 6:19-20 2. For not all are believers - 2Th 3:2b a. Not all believe the Word of the Lord b. Of those who don't, some mock, others persecute -- Preachers often bear the brunt of resistance and persecution in reaction to the gospel; such men are not super heroes (cf. 1Co 2:3), they need our prayers! [Certainly if Paul, called by God and commissioned by Christ Himself, felt incomplete and inadequate without the prayers of his brethren, how much more should preachers today! Yet as Paul continues, we see that preachers should also be praying for their brethren...] II. A PRAYER RENDERED (3-5) A. FIRST, AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE... 1. In the faithfulness of the Lord - 2Th 3:3; cf. 1Th 5:24 a. Who would establish them 1) As Paul prayed previously - 2Th 2:17 2) As Peter prayed in his epistle - 1Pe 5:10 b. Who would guard them from the evil one 1) A wonderful assurance for the Christian - cf. 1Co 10:13; 2Pe 2:9 2) For which we should diligently pray - cf. Mt 6:13; Jn 17:15 2. In the Lord concerning them - 2Th 3:4; cf. Php 1:6 a. That they do the things he commands them 1) As evidenced by their growing faith - cf. 2Th 1:3 2) As illustrated by their abounding love - cf. 2Th 1:3 3) As demonstrated by their enduring patience - cf. 2Th 1:4 b. That they will do the things he commands them 1) Their past performance gave Paul confidence regarding their future faithfulness 2) Just as the Philippians' conduct gave Paul confidence - cf. Php 1:6-7 -- Knowing the Lord's faithfulness to provide for His own, the faithfulness of Christians provides great confidence regarding their future! B. THEN, A PRAYER FOR THEM... 1. That the Lord direct their hearts - 2Th 3:5a a. It is not enough that we seek to aim our hearts in the right direction b. We ought to seek God's assistance in this regard 1) As David prayed for Israel and Solomon - cf. 1Ch 29: 18-19 2) As Solomon prayed for himself and Israel - cf. 1Ki 8: 57-58 c. We definitely need the help of God even in our desires to do good - cf. Php 2:13 2. Into the love of God and the patience of Christ - 2Th 3:5b a. Into the kind of love God has for them 1) Which God had taught them - cf. 1Th 4:9 2) Which God demonstrates through Jesus - cf. 1Jn 4:9-11; 3:16-18 b. Into the kind of patience Jesus displayed 1) Which He endured the cross - cf. He 12:1-3; 1Pe 2:21-23 2) Which they continued to need in light of their circumstances - cf. 2Th 1:4 -- Certainly every Christian needs to have a God-like love and Christ-like patience; this should be the prayer of every preacher for the souls with whom he labors! CONCLUSION 1. In "A Prayer Requested, A Prayer Rendered", we are reminded of the need for prayers 2. Preachers need our prayers... a. That the gospel may have free course b. That preachers of the gospel not be hindered by the world 3. Preachers need to pray for their brethren... a. That the Lord will direct them in their spiritual growth b. That they will grow in love of God and patience of Christ Happy is the church where both preacher and congregation do not hesitate to say to one another: "Brethren, pray for us." - 1Th 5:25