Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
A Prayer for Me, A Prayer for You
What is the focus of your prayer life?
2:16-17 God loves us. He has always encouraged us and given us hope with his grace. May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father encourage and strengthen your hearts in every thing you do and every good thing you say.
3:1 Concerning everything else, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so God's word can quickly spread and get a fine reputation, just like it did among you. 2 In this way, we can be freed from strange and evil people. Not everyone believes in Jesus.
3 The Lord is faithful. He gives you strength and guards you from the Evil One. 4 With the Lord guiding you, we have confidence in you, that you are doing and will do what we told you to do. 5 May the Lord direct you to the love of God and the patience Christ showed us.
2:16 (May) our LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF and God our Father, the One having loved us and having given us eternal encouragement and good hope through (his) grace, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen (them) in every action and good word.
3:1 As to the remaining (matters), pray, brothers, for us, so that the word of the LORD might run (ahead) and be given glory, just as (it did) among you, 2 so that we might be delivered from strange and evil men. For the faith is not for all. 3 But faithful is the LORD, who strengthens you and guards you from the Evil One. 4 We have confidence about you in the LORD, that what we order you to do, you are both doing and will do. 5 May the LORD make your hearts straight in the love of God and toward the patience of CHRIST.
3:4 "that what we order you to do, you are both doing and will do" Considering the generalities of this statement, the author spoke of the Christian tradition: the "what" and "how" of faith. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:15)
These verse from 2 Thessalonians acted as a transition between the author's thesis on the "lawless man" and his exhortations to his audience. Unlike the lawless one (the author shifted between the apostate and Satan), the Christian was to stand firm in the faith that was given to him or her. But that steadfast spirit relied on God's help. Hence the author ended with a prayer for the hope and strength of his audience.
In turn, the author desired prayers for his ministry. Since Paul (the author?) was a missionary/evangelist, he asked that God's word would spread quickly and have a good reputation. Both of these petitions would make his job and the jobs of his compatriots much easier (they would not have to encounter so many opponents). If his audience would pray these petitions, the author could rest assured his readers would follow the instructions given to them. And he was confident that the Lord would protect the community from the work of the devil.
Two prayers, one for personal strength in faith, one for those who minister to us. These are two petitions we should remember daily. If we pray for those who feed us and our own strength, we will be more mindful of our efforts to pass along the faith.
Do you pray for your Church leaders? Do you pray for the Lord to increase your faith? How do these prayers affect your efforts in evangelization?