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September 12, 2021 7:00 pm
We have had a lot of emphasis upon the subject of prayer here because over the last recent weeks. It has been a strong recent emphasis in our Sunday night preaching the best regards is done in the book of Revelation a Sunday night in particular emphasis upon prayer. It has been a strong emphasis. Not surprisingly, but nevertheless a notable emphasis in our Wednesday night prayer meetings of late and of course always an emphasis on Wednesday night on prayer, but not always the focus of the messages on Wednesday night, but it has been lately, and now today we come to that, a large verse by verse exposition through second Thessalonians to the final verses of chapter 1 and two. Another emphasis upon the importance of prayer do you suppose that in all of this, God is trying to tell us anything is trying to focus our attention upon prayer. The importance of it in the practice of it in second Thessalonians 1 1112 Paul describes how he prays for the Thessalonian believers receiving this kind of format before four verses 11 and 12, though they sound very much like a prayer. Close examination reveals they aren't exactly a prayer it's Paul reporting on a prayer. Paul reporting on how he prays, so we see the elements of prayer. We understand a great deal about prayer. It sounds and looks of it to us very much like a prayer, and yet what it is.
Is Paul saying this is how I pray for you is a prayer report Paul reporting to the Thessalonians on how he prays for them and it is the first of four prayers or prayer reports, as the case may be someone some the other. In the short epistle of second Thessalonians, with only three chapters again we see the importance of prayer.
Paul the apostle Paul was a man of prayer because Paul's Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ was a man of prayer. Therefore, we too need to become men and women of prayer.
If we are followers of Christ and if we are following the example of a godly follower the Lord Jesus Christ in this prayer recorded in the last part of this chapter will help us understand how we should pray. It shows us how Paul prayed, and it will help us to understand how we should pray and so we begin by reminding you I said this recently, most simple definition of prayer is that prayer is talking to God. That's what it is there other things we can say about it. Were there other things we can say prayers this or that or something else but it is most simple and basic element prayer is talking to God and we need to talk to God. And so, let's examine four elements of prayers we see them in our text in verse 11 and 12 and we begin with what I've called the prompt things of prayer.
Verse 11 says and I'll read both of these verses again. Therefore, we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness in the work of faith with power that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you and him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ and begins with what I've called the promptings of prayer that is that opening word therefore which we recognize as a word of connection to the word.
The links to the previous context. This tells us what it was that prompted Paul to pray in the way that he records his prayer.
Here, this tells us what was the cause Paul to feel his need to pray in the way that he describes all of this that he said in chapter 1, and that he comes to verse 11, he says. Therefore, because of what I have told you because of what I've written, because of what has gone before. Therefore, we speak of himself in the visionary team. Silas and Timothy.
Therefore, we always pray and so the promptings of prayer take us back into the context in chapter 1. Therefore, one translation rendered this to this ailment and another one with this in mind.
To this end, we pray with this in mind, we pray. Therefore, we pray. Now we could probably pick out a number of things. In chapter 1 that we could link to Paul's prompting to pray but I will focus on three particulars as I scanned through this chapter. What were the particular things that prompted Paul to pray they are number one the fifth Thessalonians worthiness.
If you had been here for a previous sermon that may sound strange, but I will explain that more fully number to their neediness. Number three.
Their holiness first of all, there worthiness that takes us back to verse four and five.
He says in verse four, so we ourselves most of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you would endure which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you remember this that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.
In verse four Paul talks about the very real situation in Thessalonica of both persecutions and tribulations persecutions brought on by the enemies of the gospel, which made them targets of attack in a unique way. Because these attacks came only toward those who were followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and they were targets therefore of special suffering special trials unique only to the people of God persecutions for the sake of Christ.
But beyond that, there were the normal tribulations of life that we all face sickness and death and loss of jobs and the various things that all of his face and they had all this. They have a lot going on in Thessalonica, and Paul commended them for their persevering faith.
They work facing these trials will they work endure enduring them in a very exemplary manner and he said this is what God sees to count you worthy of his kingdom. This is not what makes us worthy of his kingdom.
Christ makes is worthy of his kingdom.
But this is what reveals that we have been made worthy of his kingdom.
This persevering faith in the face of trials is something that the children of God manifest by the grace of God and is a way of distinguishing true faith from counterfeit faith. Some say they trust in Jesus Christ. But when the trials, what happens they falter, they fail to remember the parable Jesus told in the end of the sermon on the Mount about the two houses, one built on the rock and one bill on the sand and one was built on the rock of the wins in the way the trials of life came and beat up on the house and what did it do it stood because it was built upon a strong foundation was built upon the rock Christ Jesus. But the house build on the Sam same trials same storms same rain same way as they decay and what happened. I fell flat because it wasn't built on the foundation. That's what you eat what the policy here. Deciding I see genuine faith in you.
I see your persevering and trials.
I see you're holding onto the Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrating your faith in him that has been given to you by God. This is a demonstration. This is a manifestation that God counts you reckons you declares you worthy of his kingdom because you have genuine faith in Christ.
But how does that relate to Paul's prayers for them. While there exemplary perseverance and faith is evidence of their savings, their persevering faith manifests their worthiness.
The Christ is worked within them.
He made us worthy, but Paul still makes that an object of his prayers. In other words, so far they're doing well, but they're not home yet so I pray that you will continue to persevere. I pray that you will swell module start will finish well. I pray that you will continue to be worthy of his calling as verse 11 says therefore we also pray always for you that our God will count you worthy of his calling as part of his prayer, so this is one of the, therefore, is this is what Paul has in mind. With this in mind, I pray for you with what I mind Paul well this wonderful encouragement is demonstration of your worthiness, but you're not home safe until you get home safe and so I pray that you will make it all away by the help and grace of God.
But I'm praying to that in what what else number to their neediness, and I don't point to any one specific text for this, but it's the general tone of what goes on before us here in links into what I just said. In other words, they have evidenced God's grace, but they obviously need God's grace they have had a good measure of God's grace, but they still needed outpouring of God's grace.
Don't think they are evidencing the manifestation of their faith by the grace of God, but they still need to be upheld and protected and empowered by the grace of God there neediness for God's graces and over till they get to heaven. Therefore, I pray for you. I pray for you that your worthiness will be manifested all the way home. I pray for you that your needs will be supplied by God's grace until you have arrived, and the third one is their holiness that they will be glorified at the second coming of Christ, which is referred to in verse 10, when he comes in that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired among all those who believe because our testimony while you was believed. Therefore, we also pray.
So he's praying that they will be glorified. The second coming of Christ which she has already declared will happen for those who are truly the children of God. But what he's saying when he gets into this part of the request. In verse 12 that you may be glorified to Christ to be glorified in you and you and him what he saying is that that which will be in it will be manifested in its fullness at the second coming of Christ may be manifested more obviously here now before Christ comes. It isn't that we wait until Christ comes in now. We manifest his glory. Now, we demonstrate holiness in our lives.
Now we show the fruit of sanctification in that day. Paul says no don't know if you are if you are recipients of that in that day, then it should be already operating in your life now. Yes indeed will be operating in your life now and I am praying. To that end, that it will operate more and more and more or until the Lord comes and it will be manifested in its full expression and so what was Paul's prayer burden is prompting here.
It was for the spiritual growth. The believer's what we call sanctification, and I would suggest were talking about how this teaches us to pray. I would suggest that we need to consciously relate more of our prayer requests to the sanctification of the saints. We are prone to have a list of petitions needs Lord, this person is sick. Please heal them more. This person lost their job. Please provide a job for them. Lord, this person lost their dear loved one. Please comfort them, but we should take it one step further. Lord, this person is sick.
Please heal them of the year will but in all things. Please sanctify them please grow them in grace. Please cause this trial to make them more Christlike and manifest more of Christ's glory in their life that would be a prayer similar to what Paul prayed.
Likewise, in other requests. They lost their job. Lord help strengthen their faith help them to rely upon you. Help them to trust you for their needs. Help them to see your power at work in these difficult circumstances and to glorify you when you supply their needs. Even though there helpless to do so at this time. You see how that ties into Paul's emphasis here in prayer. So that's the promptings of prayer number two let's talk a bit about what I will call the permeation of prayer and I focus now upon that word always in verse 11. Therefore, we also pray always for you and if you study the prayers of the apostle Paul in Scripture you know that this is very, this comes up in almost all of his missions of prayer. How he prays always how he prays constantly, and we sometimes scratch our heads and say how is that possible, we scratch our heads and say what exactly does that mean because this is such a common description of Paul's prayer will let me explain what I think this means several things number one Paul prayed regularly number two, Paul prayed often you say is not the same thing will not necessarily. Paul said, I pray every Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock without fail, we could say Paul prays regularly, but it Paul only prayed every Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock we could say Paul prayed often see what I mean.
We played regularly and his regular prayer schedule. If you want to call it that involved frequent praying. Obviously you did. We pray always for you, but even beyond that what Paul is telling us is that he clearly lived in an attitude of constant prayer he is saying I don't need to be on my knees in order to pray. I don't need to be in my proverbial closet in order to pray. I pray while I selling cloth and making tents. I pray while I'm walking the streets and running errands.
I pray as I going through life and noticing things around me. The things that I see I relate to the Lord in prayer. I'm praying always and praying regularly. I'm not praying every second of every minute of every hour of every day. It's not what I mean but I'm praying I'm I'm living with the constant attitude of prayer something to Paul had obviously cultivated, but I would suggest that it's difficult to cultivate this regular attitude of constant prayer, unless one prays regularly. Unless one prays often he will find it difficult to actually live in the kind of constant attitude of prayer, the Paul is describing here and that's a helpful guide for us. We too need to develop regular habits of prayer needs to be part of our schedule and we need to praise often as we can now having said that, I must also say this in spite of the fact that this emphasis on prayer leads us to believe that it ought to be scheduled in it ought to be as frequent as possible.
It's also noteworthy that nowhere in the Bible do we have a release in the New Testament do I know we have a description of anyone's schedule. We don't know what their schedules were we know for example that Jesus prayed frequently and regularly and seriously, we have records in the Scriptures of a least a couple times when he spent the whole night in prayer. These heavenly father now did he do that, seven days a week. I don't think so. Lessee slept all day sick will. How often did he do that don't know during the three years of his earthly ministry say approximately a thousand days, give or take, how many of those were nights that he spent the whole night with the father in prayer. Well if we go only by what's recorded would say only two or three. Now we can say that two or three is probably a sample of others in that would be reasonable, but we don't know that it might be two or 3092, or three every week or two so we just don't know doing. We know that he did this. This shows us the importance of prayer. The priority of prayer choses someone who's communion with God was such that he could spend the whole night in prayer.
How many of us could do that before would run out of things to say and and have trouble staying awake. I make this teaches us a lot about Christ prayer but we really don't know his schedule. Likewise with the apostle Paul.
We know that he prayed regularly and often. But when did he pray that he prayed that he give up get up every day and pray at 6 AM and again it 12 noon and again it 6 PM and again at 9 PM maybe, maybe not. We don't know we don't know what the schedule is which I think is the wisdom of God in telling us that all of our schedules are going to be the same. They can't be but in conformity with your life with your schedule. It's important that you find times to schedule prayer you manage to find time to do the things that are important. You managed to find time to eat. Anyone who hasn't eaten for the last three or four days somehow you did it you're busy but you did it without time to do it in the things we find important. We find some way to work and to our schedule. No matter how busy they may be and if we will accept with the Scripture teaches us about the importance of prayer and we will give it priority will honor the Lord by including that some kind of a schedule but we are not going to become term should I use you were not going to become legalistic about it safe. If I don't pray all night every night.
The knife I failed the Lord I beat myself up if you took the type of thing. The schedule is given because the schedule listen what's important, it's that were giving it priority were cultivating and developing a prayer life and that is teaching us to and what is most important here live in a constant attitude of prayer permeates our whole life. I have known people who have taken this idea of all. I just pray as I'm driving and I prays I'm working in as as if that fulfills the whole responsibility and they don't really have any time were they really get into their proverbial prayer closet and spend time with the Lord in prayer.
And though that's better than ignoring prayer altogether. I'm a little skeptical about that. I really wonder how much of an attitude toward prayer.
Prayer you can have if you don't have times of closet. Prayer, but the real goal is to develop constant prayer and attitude of constant prayer in the full development living all of life in an attitude of prayer which means committing each day to God in prayer. When we get up in the morning relating every rising event that comes along in the day to God in prayer committing every concern that comes into our mind. It may not even be an event in our life. The things the thoughts, the company into our minds throughout the day immediately committing those to the Lord in prayer. Living all of life in an attitude of prayer and as we do that this will help us guard against sin and this will help us live each day to the glory of God. So let's understand this permeation of prayer so important. Number three the petitions of prayer. The petitions of prayer we seen the promptings the permeation of now the petitions and there are two things primarily pose praying about their in verse 11. Therefore, we also pray always for you that. Is that in order that number one God which you would count you worthy of his calling.
We've already touched on that a bit will expand on at the moment we pray that God would count you worthy of his of this calling number two fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness in the work of faith with power. The two petitions of prayer that Paul describes in his prayer for the Thessalonians is number one, that they may become worthy of their calling number two that they may become effective in their labors. The tie together we look at them separately to become worthy of our calling that our God would count you worthy of this calling. What is this calling. I think you know not everybody does. But Paul frequently identifies Christians in terminology like this. According to their calling or the call of God upon them. Now we normally describe Christians in terms of their exercise of faith toward God, we talk about believer talk about people of faith and so forth. Nothing wrong with that. That's considered as well.
Paul mentions that in verse four we ourselves most of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith. That's their faith in God. So there is this human exercise of faith, but again it's a matter of of balance. We tend to ignore this divine designation but also often uses the calling to identify God's people.
They are the ones who are the called of God. How often do we talk that way. How often do we talk about believers as those who are called those who are the elect of God.
That's the kind of language that Paul uses. We tend like so many people to instinctively go to the human activity.
The faith that people exercise in the word of God which of course is part of it as well because we know the faith. As a result of God's work in our lives. Those the God calls to exercise faith right.
Of course they do. In fact, it's because of God's calling. They do human action is the result of divine activity. But Paul starts back to step or two before we tend to and he says I'm pray that God will make you worthy of this calling this call of God upon your life. One of the most favored verses that all Christians have whether they understand what I'm talking about at this point or not but one of the favorite verses in nearly all Christians have is good old Romans 828. But what does it say, and we know the all things work together for good for him, to them who love God. That's the human action what's the other one to those who are the called according to God's purpose that's the other side. They both go together.
Don't those who love God. How does anyone love God we love God because he first loved us.
How does anyone love God because they are the called according to God's purpose in God's purpose is to enable them to prompt them to develop develop within them a love for God which otherwise none of us would have. We don't naturally love God like Martin Luther King to realize he said I'd love God I hate him, looking at the Commandments thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all their heart and soul and mind, and strength that he was honest, more honest than most people.
He was religious when he said this, he was a say clergyman a minister when he said these words love God I hate him.
How come to understand the truth of his own heart and soul until he was converted in Kelly's heart was changed until God did a work of grace in his heart he didn't love God he couldn't love God is sinful rebellion, caused him to hate the God who was holy and demanded holiness in his creatures and Martin Luther have that desire or that ability because, like all men who loved darkness rather than light, he loved darkness rather than light, and he couldn't make himself love God and yet all things work together for good for who to those who love God, where they come from those who are the called according to his purpose.
That's what Paul is doing here is talking in terms of this calling divine calling enlarges our perspective.
I know some people who, though they believe the things I'm saying now are very reluctant to talk about them because they know that some people don't like it that's what it really boils down to, but we need to talk about that. The Bible talks about them. We need to talk about them. There's a purpose for them. It it shapes our thinking in the right ways. It gets us away from this crowd self-centered perspective and puts us in the humble God centered perspective, which is what we need. We need to understand the sovereignty of God in salvation. That'll humblest that will put us in her plate with Paul going to say after Romans 828 for whom he did foreknow them. He also predestinated holders. Another one of those words to be conformed to the image of his son that may also predestinated and how he predestinated them.
He also called there's called it's right in the middle of this chain of five thing and those whom he called, them he also justified and those whom he justified, them he also glorified. Five links in the gold chain of salvation, foreknowledge, predestination, call that election, calling God calls those whom he has chosen, and then he justifies those who say wait a minute, he doesn't justify them till they believe is right. We are justified by faith.
But you know in the in the in the understanding of salvation.
Faith is it's not it's not insignificant. It's not negligible, but honestly, folks, it's just not that is not the most important thing the most important thing is is the foreknowledge of the predestination on the calling and the justification and the glorification, and of course those whom God calls will believe and those who believe truly believe will be justifiable. You can insert other things in here, but I'm such an important things as well but what I'm showing you is that so many times when Paul is talking about the people of God. He's not even thinking about these human activities he's just thinking about what God is because ultimately there is no salvation except when God does something in one God does. There is one God doesn't is nothing we can do. So we better run to God. So Paul is praying that I say here get back to it now that they would become worthy of their calling God would count you worthy of his calling and thinking about that aspect of the God inside of all of this elevates our spiritual priorities now are not thinking about what I did well bless God I walked a mile. I prayed a prayer. What did God do God humbled me God called me God drew me into himself, but what that takes us to his is beyond that. Why did God call us to himself. Answer to reverse our Adamic fallenness and to enable us to glorify him. We can't do that until that sinfulness that we inherited from Adam and we have multiplied many fold in our own. It sinful activities until that's dealt with. There's no way we can glorify God but God created us to bring glory to him. So what's he doing in salvation. He's he's dealing with the effects of the fall so that we can do what we were created to do. That's what God's doing. That's why he's calling us to himself. How can we fulfill such a high calling for our purpose for being is to bring honor and glory to God. How can we do that only by God's grace and power. Hence the need of prayer. We have to pray that God will enable us to do what otherwise we cannot do right.
Some of you are getting it so Paul's first petition is that they would become worthy of their calling. The second one is to become effective in their labors and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness and work with faith and power. Thomas Constable rendered this the God would bring to full expression every good purpose of there's to glorify God and every act motivated by faith in God that God would fulfill to put it this way every holy desire in every proper endeavor. That's what Paul is praying for God would fulfill that is to bring to expression with power is power.
Every good purpose.
That's our motives are desires and every act prompted by faith. Every desire that's good. And every endeavor.
That's based upon faith that is believing the word of God. In other words, both inward desire and outward activity that God will empower all of the inward desires and outward activities that are in line with faith every desire to be into good keeping in mind.
As Jeffrey Rosen said God implants the desires and God enables the accomplishments we wouldn't have any good desires of God didn't give them. But God gives them. And then he enables us to fulfill them.
He gives us these desires and they become hours I want to please the Lord. I will serve him.
Paul says I'm praying that God will enable you to do that. I want to accomplish this for the kingdom of God is a good desire. God pulses all pray God will enable you to do that. That's Paul's prayer and finally going to have to hurry with the fourth one is the purpose of prayer.
So we have had the promptings of prayer, the permeation of prayer.
The petitions of prayer. Another purpose of prayer another that that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you and him the glory of Christ. This is the ultimate purpose of prayer to bring glory to Christ.
To pray that God will enable us to bring glory to Christ. That's it. The name of Christ name of the Bible is the person the character the conduct the reputation of the person who is named that the name of Christ may be glorified wasn't mean for Christ name to be glorified.
It means for his person to be praised. It means for his reputation to be enhanced. It means that we show others what he is truly like a lot of people have mistaken opinions about Christ. A lot of people have very detrimental and wicked opinions of Christ.
What's our job to manifest the true Christ to demonstrate and declare his glory who he truly is what is truly like. That's our job and he is glorified when the full impact of who he is is recognized and worshiped by others. He's making worshipers.
That's what he told the Samaritan woman. God is looking for those to worship it and every time he saves the soul.
He makes a new worshiper and so our job is to worship him and our job is to lift him up before others if they can see who truly is. As we pray the God the Holy Spirit will cause them to want to worship him as well that he will be glorified in you and you this is how his name is glorified and this takes place. Ultimately, when Christ returns. He's going to really be glorified in us and that day, but again like the sanctification it's going on now we are glorifying him now. Not to perfect degree. Shame on us weekly rue the fact that we can glorify him as fully as we know we should want to but we are doing it by his help and grace and power even in our incomplete sanctification, even in wrestling with our Adamic fallenness the remnants of our Adamic fallenness we still because we are his children. We are enabled by him to lift him up to praise him to magnify him to represent him before others for who he truly is and to call others to worship, so the purpose of prayer is to bring glory to Christ. The purpose of prayer is to pray for the sanctification of God's people will be glorified in you and you and him and the purpose of God. Prayer is to exalt God's grace. All of this according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
These petitions of Paul are accomplished only by God's grace, a grace that flows equally from father and son.
One article for both God and Lord in this text to titles for one person. The glory goes to God because it is accomplished only by him by his gracious power. Now that brings me to this conclusion.
Prayer should be these things. Five things prayer should be regular prayer should be often prayer should be number three life saturating always pressure number four should be God glorifying related every petition to the glory of God show how that petition can bring glory to God include that in your prayer and number five are prayer should be saints sanctified. Pray how this trial. Pray how this need will be used. To further sanctify God's people.
Prayer should be regular, often life saturating God glorifying, and saints sanctified, and it will learn to pray like that will be praying like the apostle Paul and if we pray like the apostle Paul, I think, will be praying pretty good. You I think so. The disciple said, Lord, teach us to pray, he has here it is. So let's get busy when you pray father teach us to pray and help us to pray in Christ name