October 20, 2021

October 20, 2021

Author: Pastor Mark Bauer
October 20, 2021

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”

2 Thessalonians 1:3

For our meditation this evening, I’d like us to take a few minutes to remind ourselves about some of the characteristics of the Apostle Paul’s prayer life. We have learned that Paul’s prayer life was characterized by his fervent prayers for the lost. Romans chapter 10 describes Paul’s burden for the lost, and that it was Paul’s heart’s desire that his brothers would be saved (Romans 10:1). This burden and desire caused Paul to pray, to pray to God fervently, to pray to God Who is sovereignly the One Who saves, God Who is the One Who shows mercy to sinners. He prayed that God would save his brethren. While that was an important aspect of Paul’s prayer’s life, this evening I want to look at another aspect of Paul’s prayer life. I want to look at characteristics of Paul’s prayer life as seen in his prayers for the church, for God’s people.

I think in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 some of the characteristics of Paul’s prayers for the church include constancy in prayer, thankfulness in prayers, and prayers that are God directed.

So first, Paul’s prayers are constant. In v. 3 Paul writes, “We ought always to give thanks.” Paul’s prayers for the church were not something that he did just every once in a while, such as every six months, or every three months. They were not even merely weekly. It was something constant. It was something he was always doing. He was always engaged in praying for God’s people.

We see that Paul was consistent in doing this. This wasn’t something he just did this one time as he writes his second letter to the church in Thessalonica. If we look back at I Thessalonians chapter 1 we see he begins this letter with a similar statement regarding his constant prayer life for the church. I Thessalonians 1:2 says this, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly…” Paul was praying constantly for the church. He had been, and he continued to be even throughout the different time periods he was writing letters.

So we see that Paul’s prayer life was constant, but it wasn’t constant only for the church in Thessalonica. His prayer life was constant for all of the churches. We see that similar statements are found in his letters to other churches. In Ephesians 1:16 he writes this, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Paul did not cease. He continued. He was constant in prayers for the church in Ephesus. In Philippians 1:3,4 he writes this, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you…” So again, always praying for the church. In Colossians 1:3, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” Again, the word “always” is characterizing his prayers. Then in I Corinthians 1:4, “I give thanks to my God always for you….” Paul was always praying for God’s people. I think we can see in just this aspect of his prayer life that Paul was constant in prayer for the church.

Also, as we look at Paul’s prayer life, we can see that Paul’s prayers were marked with thankfulness for the church. Being thankful—I know it is so easy for us to be critical, is it not? I think we all struggle with this at times. We can see the weaknesses and faults in others. We can even see faults and failings in our brothers. But we all are weak. We all fail and battle with remaining signs. This mindset of being super critical can sometimes cause us to miss out on seeing the graces that are evident in our brothers. And although in Paul’s letters he had to deal with sinful issues in the churches to with he was writing. Paul did not allow these issues cause him to lose sight of the positive graces being displayed by the people of God in those churches. In those same verse that we just looked at we see Paul often using this phrase, “I give thanks to God for you.” He is giving thanks for the people of God. The focus of his thanksgiving is that he is focusing and seeing the graces of God’s people being evident and displayed in the lives of God’s people. Graces of faith, graces of love, graces that were seen by their works and their labors. Works showing their love for God and love for their neighbor.

These graces of faith and love were not just static, but they were growing. Look back at 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4 again: “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.” The people there in Thessalonica, their faith was growing abundantly. Their love was increasing more and more. But it wasn’t just in an easy setting. No. It is described that they are faced with persecutions and afflictions they are enduring. But even in all of this, these graces were growing. Paul saw that and he gave thanks for that and he gave thanks to God.

We see that Paul’s prayer life was increased by being thankful. The final characteristic I want to mention briefly is that Paul’s prayers were ones that were God directed. In all of these cases, Paul says, “I give thanks to God.” The thankfulness Paul is giving is not directed necessarily to the people, but it is directed to God as he is praying for the church. I think it is because Paul knows that it is God who is enabling God’s people to grow in faith, to continue to increase in love even despite the afflictions that they may be suffering and the persecutions that they face. We know that by ourselves and in our own strength, we are so weak. We are not able ourselves to remain steadfast and faithful under persecution, and to demonstrate love when we are suffering affliction. But by God’s help, we can not only endure but our faith and our love can actually grow. Paul’s prayers were directed to God. God, Who is the source of these graces. Therefore, it is to God that we should give thanks.

We had a brief look at some of the characteristics of Paul’s prayers for the church. I hope that as we think of these for a moment, they will help us. These are wonderful examples for us, are they not? We need to make sure that our prayers are constant, that we are always ready to pray for the church, for God’s people. And that our prayers are characterized by being thankful for the good we see in God’s people. And finally that our prayers are directed to God, directing our thanksgiving to our God Who is the source of all that is good.