Things and conditions
We often pray for things, or for conditions to be changed, that someone get a new “fill in the blank”, or that the health of someone be improved. We tend to direct our prayers to the outcome – a job, a house, or a medical issue, rather than to the subject – the believer or even, the non-believer. We even Christian talk about pray as in “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Do we realize how powerful prayer is or is it just expected as part of a fellowship of believers. Are we praying for the right things?
You don’t read in the bible of Paul praying for Job’s health and wealth. Or of Peter praying for Jonah to get new transportation.
In fact, here is a post on all the prayers of Paul. Paul never prayed for things (he did ask that his cloak and parchments be brought.) Three times (one verse), Paul did pray to change a medical condition:
2 Corinthians 12:7-9a “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
So what did Paul pray for?
He prayed for salvation, for hope, for patience in affliction, for endurance and encouragement, for unity, for joy and peace, to be rescued from unbelievers to continue his mission of sharing the gospel, for perfection, for spiritual blessings, etc., etc.
So how are believers to pray?
We need to look at 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 to answer that.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
“ To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I) The resource and timing
“To this end we pray for you always…” Prayer is the resource to which we commune with God.
Note the word “always.” Prayer is to become a state of being, not something that is resorted to only in time of need. We are to, as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 states to “pray without ceasing.” It’s a state of constant communion with God.
II) What to pray for
1) That we would be Worthy of our Christian calling
What is a worthy walk? A worthy walk is a walk in humility, a walk in purity, a walk in contentment, a walk by faith, a walk in righteousness, a walk in unity, a walk in gentleness, a walk in strength, a walk in patience, a walk in love, a walk in joy, a walk in thankfulness, a walk in light, a walk in knowledge, a walk in wisdom, a walk in truth and a walk in fruitfulness.
If you remember the article on “God’s Will,” the above are the same type of qualities that are the will of God for us, in order for us to know God’s will. Also, these are the same for which Paul was praying.
A worthy walk is also suffering for the Lord. Philippians 2:27-30:
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Summing it up, if you say Christ and you are related – i.e. you’re a Christian, then as 1 John 2:6 – says, you “ought to walk as He walked.”
We are to pray for the growth of our Christian character and virtue.
2) That our God may fulfill our every good desire,
We should pray that God would grant us the delights of our heart. To fulfill everything we desire when what we desire is good by God’s definition and in accordance with God’s will.
“Thou hast given him his heart’s desire and Thou hast not withheld the request of his lips for Thou dost meet him with the blessings of good things.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
If you’re delighting in Him, God will give you everything your heart desires because your will is aligned with God’s will.
So, what about Paul? Well, the answer was “no” but didn’t Paul changed his own will to be aligned when he understood that God’s grace was sufficient.
3) and work of faith
This “work of faith” what is that?
1 Thessalonians 1:3 says “constantly bearing in mind your work of faith…” to which Paul in verse 2 gave thanks. Remember, good works don’t lead to salvation, salvation leads to good works.
Works of faith are those which Ephesians 2:10 discusses “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Paul’s prayer is asking for these good works of believers to be produced. Fruits.
4) fulfilled in power
That our God may accomplish your efforts powerfully as in Ephesians 3:16:
“That He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
Also, Philippians 4:19:
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Whereas Economics is the study of “limited resources,” Theology is the study of the God of “unlimited resources.”
III) The reason
“In order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The primary purpose of prayer isn’t health, wealth, or changing a condition. The primary purpose is “in order that” the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified. It is to God’s glory that our prayers are answered.
Notice that God is personalized and intimate. He is “our” Lord Jesus, and “our” God.
Notice also the little phrase – “and you in Him” remember, as believers, we are justified, sanctified and ultimately glorified.
What about non believers
So how do we pray for non-believers?
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Our prayers for non believers should always be – that they may believe! Since often we don’t know if someone is a believer or not, perhaps this should be a part of all our prayer. As Matthew 16:26 states “ For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (or is cured and remains an unbeliever.)
The resource – pray always
The requests: found worthy of our calling, every good desire, and works of faith, in power.
The reason: to glorify our God.
So here’s my prayer:
“I pray always that God would count me worthy of my calling, fulfilling my good desires and works of faith, in power, to His glory.”
Or, let’s reverse this.
“We glorify God, according to His riches, by producing works of faith and fulfilling the desires of our heart, by walking worthy of His calling through unceasing prayer.”