By Kevin Shrum
Pastor, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville
Focal Passage: II Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
Prayer is an interesting, yet dynamic and essential Christian discipline. We pour our hearts out to God in prayer. He promises to hear us, to speak to us, and to answer our prayers according to His will. But too many times we feel as if we’re speaking in mid-air to no one who is listening. But is this true?
Prayer is that unique gift God has called us to that both tests and rewards our faith in Him. Without prayer we are powerless. When we work, we work. But when we pray God works. And when God works amazing things take place. This is why we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). What do we pray about?
Steadfastness (II Thessalonians 2:13-15). We pray for steadfastness, for faithfulness in our commitment to God. We pray for a steadfastness grounded in our salvation because “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (v. 13). The effectual call of the gospel came to us for “the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14). All of this makes us stable in the Lord.
This is why Paul states that we must “stand fast and hold to the traditions” that are beneficial to our spiritual growth (v. 15).
In other words, we are to pray that we will persevere because of the genuineness of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith is a gift from God that is sustained in us by God’s faithfulness and our commitment. Genuine faith produces steadfast faith that is supported by a faithful God.
Be encouraged (II Thessalonians 2:16-17). We also pray to be encouraged. Discouragement is one of Satan’s most effective tools. If he can discourage us he can demoralize and debilitate our progress in the faith. But how are we to be encouraged? We are encouraged because the “Lord Jesus himself, even our Father” has given us love, consolation, hope and grace (v. 16). This comforts us and establishes us in “every good word and work” (v. 17).
It would be one thing if a prophet, apostle, or other spiritual leader were to appear on the scene to encourage us. But it’s even better than that. God himself encourages us.
Be prayerful (II Thessalonians 3:1-2). Finally, we pray not only to remain steadfast and encouraged, but we pray specifically for two things. First, we pray that God’s Word may be unleashed in ways that bring glory to God and that work in us as believers (v. 1).
God’s Word is the most effective means by which God empowers His people as they glorify Him. God’s Word is inspired and profitable (II Timothy 3:16-17), it is the sword or tool of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), and is powerful and effective (Hebrews 4:11-13).
Second, we pray for protection from “unreasonable and wicked men” (II Thessalonians 3:2). God knows it’s a jungle out there and that, on our own, we are unable to protect ourselves.
We’re engaged in spiritual war, and we need to be equipped. God has given us every tool necessary for battle. Prayer is like a two-way radio by which God communicates to us His battle plan for the engagement with the enemy. Prayer is our ability to communicate with our “Commander and Chief.” When we pray together we are strong. B&R