As Christians we know that we are supposed to pray, but do you ever get stuck on exactly what to pray for? If you are looking for some prayer prompts that will take you beyond, “uh, Lord…uh… be with them today?” look no further than the four important prayer points that are found in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5.
“(v1) Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, (v2) and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. (v3) But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (v4) And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. (v5) May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
Pray for the Delivery of the Gospel
Paul asks the Thessalonian Christians to pray that the Gospel may “speed ahead” or literally “speed on.” In the same way that a marathon runner continues charging ahead, we are to pray that God’s glorious Gospel would keep going forward unhindered. They are to pray, not only that the Gospel would go forward, but that it would “be honored.” Paul has in mind here that the Gospel would be accepted and respected as saving truth. He reminds the Church that this is how the Gospel was received among them.
This kind of joyous reception of the Gospel is graphically displayed in Acts 13:47-48, “For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
Prayer Prompts: God embolden me, my pastors, and our church to be about spreading the Gospel message. Prepare the way for the Gospel to be received with great joy in my family, my workplace, my neighborhood, and my town.
Pray for Deliverance from Wicked Men
One of the most effective ways that Satan has devised to hinder the Gospel is through the works of wicked and evil men (and women). Here Paul asks the church to pray that they would be delivered from these wicked ones. There are several aspects of deliverance that are in mind here
- Deliverance from those that are wicked (atopos) Lit: out of place ones. In the context of your local church, those that attend are a mixed crop of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30). Simply put, some are Christians and some are not. Sometimes those non-believers are major sources of conflict, luring others away to sin, and doctrinal perversity
- Deliverance from those that are evil (ponēros) – those actively and aggressively promoting sin, bringing hardships, and conflicts.
- It is noted here that what separates these people from those found in Christ is that “not all have faith.”
This prayer is of course not just for self-preservation or a life of ease, but rather, is intimately tied to the first prayer that the Gospel would go forward unhindered
Prayer Prompt: Gospel-centered unity in the Church, Salvation of lost souls within the local church community, the thwarting of wicked men’s plans to harm Christians and the Gospel Witness of individuals and the Church.
Pray for Defense
In light of the faithlessness of some, here Paul interjects a few points of encouragement regarding God’s faithfulness. These points of defense are also things to be sought from God’s hand and prayed for:
- He will establish you (inward) – That is, God will make you stable in Him. This encompasses faith, doctrine, trust, and several other issues relating God strengthening His people.
- He will guard you against the evil one (outward) – Ultimately God preserves His people to the end. Jude 24 says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy”
- He will bring about obedience – Obedience to what? Obedience to God’s Word! Psalm 19:8 says, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Matthew 28:20 reminds us of Jesus’ words at the great commission, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” It is every Christians duty to be obedient to God’s Word. Paul has confidence that the Lord will continue to bring about obedience in the lives of His people
Prayer Prompt: That God would strengthen your trust, bring about doctrinal purity and unity in the church, confidence in Him when faced with anxieties. That no footholds would be given for the devil in the lives of your loved ones. That you and other believers would be obsessed with sanctification and that minds would be renewed by God’s Word.
Pray for Direction
One of the most important things that we can pray for is that God would direct our hearts. Here, Paul prays that Christian hearts would be directed specifically into the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ. These two prayers have a beautiful ambiguity about them.
To the love of God – this could involve both being directed to God’s love as well as the believer loving God more. Either case would have a major impact on a believer’s sanctification. A deep love for God and dwelling on God’s deep love for the believer drowns out lesser loves and affections.
To the steadfastness (patience) of Christ – How often do you reflect on the patience of Christ? Specifically, why He is patient with his children? There is a divine patience that the believer experiences because of who they are in Christ. Christ dying on the cross satisfied the divine wrath that was due each of us because of our sins. There is rest and peace that is found in the completed work of Christ and is a reminder that there is no more condemnation for the believer. This prayer could also be for a Christlike patience. Which of us couldn’t use more of that?
Prayer Prompt: That I and other believers would love Christ more. Peace in Christ. For the patience of Christ.
There is no better thing for us to regularly pray for ourselves, our pastors and for each other than successful delivery of the Gospel, deliverance from evil men, for the Lord to make us stable, protect us from evil, and guide us into obedience. Along with those things, we should pray that our love and endurance would blossom as we look at Christ.
This was a guest post from Blake Laberee. Blake is a husband, father of two, and the lead Pastor of a small Baptist Church in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry and was a Youth Pastor for five years. Blake averages one book per week, is an avid outdoorsman, and is a fan of Phillies Baseball.