The Apostolic Prayer | 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13

The Apostolic Prayer | 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13

As believers of the Lord Jesus Christ we are all asked to pray. We are asked to pray without ceasing. Jesus told his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane:

Matthew 6:41

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

We are to pray for others, pray for those who mistreat and persecute us. Believers are to pray for ourselves too.

So, how is your prayer life? What are some of your prayer points? Are your prayers in sync with the word of God?

The Apostolic Prayer | 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Today, I want to speak to you the prayer of an apostle. The apostolic prayer. Apostle Paul’s prayer. If an apostle comes to your church or house what does he pray for? This can be a good model for our prayer, and the points of Paul’s prayer can be a good benchmark for us to attain.

In the first three chapters of this epistle, Paul is concerned to talk about his attitude and his ministry toward the Thessalonians. He really does speak regarding the integrity of his own ministry as he is under attack. He wraps up this section in the final verses of chapter 3 with a prayer. This prayer is a bridge between the introduction chapters 1-3 and conclusion of 1 Thessalonians in chapters 4 and 5.

1 Thessalonians 3:10-13

10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Paul is not simply writing down a letter. Most of the time he writes, then the stops to pray for the believers he is writing for, and he writes again. Here is such a prayer.

HOW DOES PAUL PRAY?

1 Thessalonians 3:10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

a. Paul Prayed Regularly.

According to this text, Paul prayed regularly every night and every day. We need to cultivate a regular prayer life.

b. Paul Prayed Sincerely.

Paul prays earnestly. It was sincere. His prayer came out of his love to God and people.

d. Paul Prayed For Others.

d. Paul’s Position Of Prayer

Writing to the Ephesians, Paul prays and we can find the position of his prayer.

Paul knelt and prayed.

Ephesians 3:14

For this reason I kneel before the Father…

Paul lifted up his hands and prayed.

1 Timothy 2:8

Therefore I want men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

e. Paul Prayed In All Circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16Rejoice always, 17pray continually,18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In this letter, Paul is praying because of joy. Timothy has come back with a good report about this church, so in his joy he is praying to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:9

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

Notes: Paul Prayed to both God the Father and the Lord Jesus. First, one should observe that Paul can pray to both God the Father and the Lord Jesus together as one (v. 11). Second, Paul prayed to both together but single out one as the object of the concerns of prayer at a given time (vv. 12-13). Thirdly, that in these earliest two letters, Paul prayed to either separately (to the Father see 1 Thess 1:2-3; 5:23; to Christ see 2 Thess 3:5 and 16)

SO WHAT DOES PAUL PRAY FOR?

4 THINGS

This should be our prayer and this should be our aim in spiritual life. Let’s look at it one by one.

1. Grow In Faith

1 Thessalonians 3:11

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.

According to Acts 17, Paul founded this church and he was taken away from them at night because of severe opposition. Paul has been longing to go back to see this church. However, Jason (a member of that church) has given a bond that Paul will not return.

Acts 17:1-10

1When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said.

4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 5But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.

6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.”

8When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.

So Paul has been praying that our Lord Jesus clear the way for them to go back to Thessalonica.

Why does Paul want to go Thessalonica?

1 Thessalonians 3:10

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

I want to come and help you have a perfecting, growing faith. That’s what’s on his heart. He was praying for their growth in faith.

Most of us walk by sight more often than we walk by faith. We make our judgments on the basis of circumstances and feelings, rather than the Word of God. Also, we need to learn then to have a growing faith. We need to pray for faith, especially at times like this.

Now what does that mean? Faith increases when the word of God is taught.

Romans 10:17

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Faith is the ability to trust the truth of God’s word. As you listen to God’s word, as you meditate on God’s word your faith is enlarged.

So when Paul says I want to come back and supply what is lacking in your faith, he is saying I want to come back and give you more truth of God’s word so your faith is enlarged.

Herein is the mandate to teach the Word.

The more I know about God’s word, the more I believe the truth and the more faith I have. That is why the word of God has to be preached in churches today. This is why believers have to spend time in studying and understanding the word of God.

The mandate of the church is to feed the Word of God to people so you enlarge the foundation of their faith. As you get this larger and larger base of truth, God begins to show you in your life that truth at work. And as you combine the biblical knowledge and the personal experience of God working through that truth, then your faith really grows.

So Paul wanted to perfect their faith with the Word of God. Perfecting their faith was simply feeding them the Word so they could grow on it.

1 Peter 2:1-2

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

So Paul’s prayer is that the faith of his people might be a growing faith. So we not only need evangelistic sermons, we not only need encouraging sermons, we need the foundation of truth of God’s word to trust in.

The Christian life is a life of faith.

Now, How Do I Know If My Faith Is Growing?

A. My Knowledge Of The Word Of God Is Growing.
B. I Find A Greater Confidence In God.
C. I Have A Higher Trust In His Sovereignty.
D. There Is A Definite Increase In Obedience.
E. I Find Joy In My Trials.

Faith is growing

As I apprehend more truth and trust more truth, I live more truth.

Those are the things that indicate your faith is growing. All these are the results of knowing the word of God. That’s proof that the foundation is being enlarged. That’s a growing faith.

Did God grant Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians? Yes. A few months later Paul wrote them again:

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

Hey, it happened. Paul could not go. Somebody must have gotten to them and taught the word of God. But their faith was growing. His prayer was being answered.

We should strive to know the word and grow in the word of God.

2. Grow In Love

Paul prayed for them to grow in love.

1 Thessalonians 3:12

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

What Paul prays is that we increase and overflow in this love for each other and for everyone else.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-10

9Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia.

Paul says, I have taught you to love. I know you are loving one another but your love needs to grow.

It is the same thing Paul said to the Philippian believers:

Philippians 1:9

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,

Paul always was praying for the growth of those he loved. One of the major dimension of growth was in loving one another.

Where you have an increased foundation of truth, you have an increased and enlarged faith. What happens out of that is I begin to love God. I begin to love Christ. And as I love God more with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, the natural fruit of that is to begin to love my neighbor as myself.

Love then becomes the evidence of growing faith.

Matthew 5:43-45

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

John 13:34-35

34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We are to love the brethren and love others.

1 Thessalonians 3:12

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

Paul says we loved you as an example: We first loved you evangelistically. You were never believers but the love of God prompted us to come to Thessalonica and share the gospel to you. Now that you have repented of your sins we love you in the fellowship. So our love is two-fold: Love the brethren, love the nonbelievers.

How Do You Know If Your Love Is Growing?

  • You Have Less Concern With Self-Comfort And Personal Fulfillment.
  • Less Preoccupation With Your Problems
  • More Time Spent On Other People And Their Needs.
  • An Increase In Your Sacrificial Giving.
  • A Greater Sensitivity To The Lostness Of People.
  • You Have A Heart Of Compassion To The Unsaved

Love is growing

Well, did God answer his prayer? Of course. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

God answered his prayer. By the time he writes the second letter, he is encouraged that God is answering his prayer.

So what does Paul pray? For the spiritual growth of his people. Growth in faith, growth in love.

3. Growing In Purity

1 Thessalonians 3:13

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

It is the climax of the prayer. Why does Paul want you to have a strong foundation of truth? Also, why does he want you to have a strong faith? Why does he want you to have a strong love? In order that the Lord may establish your hearts.

It means make your hearts firm, stable, and unmovable against temptation.

The heart that is the seat of motive, purpose, desire, and thought. Everything comes out of the heart. It’s not what goes in the man that defiles him, it’s what comes out of him, out of his heart. The reason the Lord wants you to have a strong foundation of faith and love is so you have a firm, strong, immovable, resolute heart that can stand against temptation.

God is holy and God wants us to be holy.

1 Peter 1:16

For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

In whose sight are we to be holy?

1 Thessalonians 3:13

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

We need to be pure in the presence of our God who is the judge. Paul prays, “I want God to see you as pure.”

We are bombarded with this sexual idolatry by almost all kinds of media that we have today. There is advertisement of things with minimally dressed men and women. That is the god of this culture.

Sexual sins are destructive because it destroys one’s self and it also totally destroys the family. This is such a devastating sin that God required the death penalty for its committal.

It Is God’s Will That We Should Be Sanctified.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control your own bodyin a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

God is calling us for purity. It should be our prayer for all for us to live holy and pure lives.

How Can I Live Pure?

a. Don’t Let Your Body Control You.

1 Thessalonians 4:4

..that each of you should learn to control your own bodyin a way that is holy and honorable.

We need to take control over our body by the power of God. This is called self-control.

Romans 6:12-14

12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

b. Don’t Act Like People Who Do Not Know God.

1 Thessalonians 4:4-5

4that each of you should learn to control your own bodyin a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;

We know God and we know from scripture how God wants us to keep our bodies. We know how to maintain sexual purity. So don’t live like the pagans.

c. Don’t Take Advantage Of Others.

This is talking about sexual advantage.

1 Thessalonians 4:6

and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

Someday you’re going to stand before God at the coming of the Lord Jesus.

d. Understand The Power Of The Holy Spirit In Your Life.

Galatians 5:16-18

16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever  you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Understand the power of the Holy Spirit in leading a pure life.

We need to grow in purity.

See David 3000 years ago. 1000 BC the king then did what they wanted. God tolerated David’s nonsense of having many wives. But the moment David took somebody’s wife, God said enough is enough. After that David limped the rest of his life because of the consequence of it.

God does not and will not tolerate sexual impurity. We need to grow in purity.

4. Grow In Hope

Grow in the hope of Christ’s Coming/Parosia

1 Thessalonians 3:13

May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

Jesus is coming back again with his holy ones, we need to grow in the hope of his coming.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

1Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

This is the hope that sustains us during our trials. We know that Jesus is coming and there will be a wonderful kingdom that will be established. We are living in the end times. So I grow in hope of the coming Kingdom of God.

How is your prayer life dear brothers and sisters? Do you have these points included in your prayer list? What does Paul pray for the church he planted?

First, Grow In Faith

Secondly, Grow In Love

Thirdly, Grow In Purity

Finally, Grow In Hope

That’s what we are to pray for. This is my prayer for you and may God give you the grace to pray such prayers and grow in the presence of God.

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