Implementing our Prayers

Posted on November 9, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“We night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face and may complete what is lacking in your faith.” 1 Thessalonians 3:10

In passages similar to Philippians and Colossians, Paul prays for those in the church at Thessalonica. In the opening verses he thanks God for them and intercedes for them with gratitude for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). Here again is that litany of faith, hope and love found repeatedly in the Bible.

It is significant to note that these are not passive character traits but action-related attributes. Faith is not just a matter of trust but is reflected in work–putting feet to what one believes. Love and giving oneself in sacrificial service for the sake of the Lord and others doesn’t come naturally; one has to work at it. It takes a deliberate effort to remain steadfast in hope when trials and temptations swirl about you.

Paul picks up on this idea as he reminds his readers again in chapter three that he prays earnestly for them night and day (verse 10). Does that not reflect something about the casualness of our praying. We may begin the day with a quiet time and mention to God concern for those on our prayer list and then forget about them. The exhortation to pray without ceasing means that the objects of our prayer are on our minds constantly; we are always lifting their needs to God.

But here Paul’s prayer takes a turn asking that God would allow him to come to them that he might minister to them and help them realize the objective for which he is praying. “We keep praying…that we may see your face and may complete what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thess. 3:10). He wasn’t satisfied just to relinquish their need to God; he wanted to do something about it. He wanted to come to them, get involved with them, teach them and disciple them so they would experience the growth that was needed in their faith.

Too often our praying is passive intercession. We leave the problem for God to solve when He, in reality, would have us be a part of the solution. When we pray for people to be comforted who are going through adversity or tragedy, He wants us to be the ones ministering comfort to them. When we pray for those who are lost or not walking with the Lord, He wants us to be the ones to witness and counsel them. When we pray for our community and nation, He wants us to implement our prayers with action and involvement that will make a difference.

Though Paul commended the Thessalonians, they needed help in strengthening their faith. They reflected a labor of love, but they still needed to increase in their love for one another–”may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another” (verse 3:12). They needed to be more firmly established in holiness–”that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness” (verse 3:13). As Paul prayed for them and these needs, he prayed that God would enable him to come to them, to teach and minister to them and help them in these areas.

This has something to do with the teachings in the Book of James about faith and works. Faith without works is dead. Could we say that prayer without action is meaningless? When our hearts become burdened for someone or a need, and we pray that God would meet that need, it is not unlikely that He would direct us to become involved and implement our prayers with action!

Leave a Reply

More News