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Pray And Encourage

2 Thessalonians 3:3-5
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. (NIVUK)

In the previous verses, Paul had asked the Thessalonian church to pray for him and his ministry team (2 Thessalonians 3:1-20). Now he writes as their apostle and senior pastor, firstly to assure them that the Lord is faithful and will answer their prayers. More than that, as they prayed for Paul's protection, the Lord would also protect them. As they engaged in the spiritual battle which faced them, the Lord would keep the Evil One from them (John 17:15).

As a church, they had grown closer to the Lord and to each other. Persecution had weeded out the insincere (Matthew 13:21); those who remained had learned to be confident in God's love so that they could be obedient to God's Word (Romans 8:35-39). They understood the need to persevere and trusted that the Lord would give them the strength they required (Hebrews 10:35-36). Paul wrote to encourage them to keep close to Jesus, and keep moving forward with the Gospel because they knew the Lord loved them and was leading them onwards.

Paul also assures them that he will pray for them that, if they should hesitate in their faith, the Lord would call them back into the security of His love. If they became so overwhelmed by the pressure of persecution and the pain of being hated by those they loved, then the Lord would show them how to persevere like Jesus did (Hebrews 12:1-3). Such patient, enduring, desire to persevere only comes from God (1 Chronicles 29:18) which is why Paul asked Him to give that inner power to the believers in Thessalonica.

We may casually say, "I will pray for you". But do you pray, or has the expression become a well-intentioned comment, designed to encourage but stripped of divine power? Many Christians rely on the support of their friends more than on the power of God. But God wants them to be transformed in the way they think, so that they will have a deep inner desire and the courage to persevere, because they let the love of Jesus work in their hearts (Romans 12:2). Our challenge is to pray for them, pleading with God to change their hearts so that they will want to live each moment in His love and have His assurance that they are safe.

Faithful God. Thank You for hearing our prayers and answering in power according to Your wisdom. Forgive me when I have told people I will pray for them but have failed to bring my friends to You in prayer, or when I have been half-hearted in praying not really expecting You to work in power. Please help me to grow in encouragement and in prayer so that my friends and family might be transformed through Your mighty power. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams