Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)
As pastors, we pray regularly and often for the people of Peine Ridge Church. Occasionally, I am asked why our meetings last for 4 hours or more and quite simply, it is because we spend so much time laboring in prayer for our people and for each other. And then we spend much time in discussion about how best to shepherd individuals and families within our body. I assure you, it is a privilege and a pleasure to do so, but it is also hard work. Paul told the Galatian church that he was in the anguish of childbirth until the image of Christ is formed in them (Galatians 4:19), so you can see that this ministry of prayer is both literally and figuratively, labor!
We pray for you because we know that shepherding this church is an impossible task in our own strength. We know that God is the only source of strength and wisdom that will enable us to be effective ministers of His Word. We know that what our people need is NOT more of us but rather, a clearer vision of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Only He can give you that. And so we pray frequently and fervently for you. But today, I’m going to turn the tables and ask you to pray for us.
Our Peine Family has been studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians this year. We finished up our study last night and as I read aloud the first part of 2 Thessalonians 3, my voice caught in my throat. I was deeply moved by Paul’s request that the Thessalonian church pray for Paul, Timothy, and Silas. Here was this super-apostle whose strength of faith leaps from the pages of Scripture, pleading with this infant church to pray for him. What humility! Paul understood that God is the source of his strength, courage, boldness, and faith. He knew that he was a clay pot in whose weakness God’s strength was made perfect.
He asked the Thessalonians to first of all, pray that God’s word would speed ahead and be honored among the people to whom Paul would preach. He wanted them to pray that the Holy Spirit would bear much fruit through the preaching of the Word. Paul well knew that his preaching was only effective because of the power of God. Secondly, he asked them to pray that Paul and his comrades would be delivered from the hands of wicked and evil men. This was not a prayer for physical safety so much as a cry for help that they would stand firm in the face of persecution. Paul knew that God was His only rock of refuge who could shelter him from the schemes of Satan.
And so church, this is a plea for you to pray for us. Pray that the Word of God will be honored each week in all of our gatherings. Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in us so that we are transformed more and more each day into the image of Christ; also pray that he Holy Spirit will work through us to form the image of Christ in each of you. Pray that we will treasure Jesus Christ first and foremost in our lives. Pray that we will be faithful husbands and fathers who lead our wives and families well. Pray for the salvation of our children and grandchildren. Pray that we will be humble–always cognizant that we can serve the body well ONLY in the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray that we will be steadfast in the reading of Scripture and in prayer. Pray that we will lead Peine Ridge Church with wisdom and grace. Ask God to deliver us from evil. And finally, pray that we will lead our church in joyful and glad obedience to Jesus Christ.