I would wrongly think that my love for the Word will leave few mysteries to be revealed, so…
Of most recent, he’s taken that well-known letter by Paul, the one written to those believers of yesteryear living in a place called Thessalonica. There, Paul makes a most moving statement, “To this end we always pray for you… (2nd; 1:11)”
It would be sufficient to linger on the term, ‘always,’ yet the Apostle has linked his ongoing prayer life to something specific. To what end? What is Paul declaring that from a certain end he is always praying for these people (Some of your translations may render the words ‘to this end,’ ‘therefore’)?
Well, I could muster you something up from the contents of my usual prayer life, like, “I am (always) praying that God will bless you, and heal you, and meet your physical needs,” but this is radically different from what Paul is praying for these people.
Paul’s ceaseless prayer life here is spent thanking God for the work He is doing in the lives of these fellow believers. It is through what and how this work is taking place though that has escaped much of my personal interceding to present.
You’ll need bounce back up a few verses to get the gist of all that Paul is referring to, for in verses three and four he infers to us that he isn’t so much concerning his prayer-life with the physical well-being of these fellow servants of Christ, but instead, that they are “Growing in faith, in their love for one another, and their ability to persevere through great persecution.”
This is not of course to insinuate that there is something wrong with our praying for healing, or that needs are met, but to recognize that prayers like the ones I’ve spent my life offering are really an inferior surface-level means of intervening Jesus’ desire for your and my life. He wants so much more for all of us than the mere things this world has to offer.
Tonight we got a little icing for the cake… not a whole lot, for my pastor added only ten words (by the ESV anyway) to meditate on for the next several days, “…that our God may make you worthy of his calling.”
Turning to the congregation, we were asked to offer suggestions as to what Paul referred to with his using the word “calling (our salvation).” “…that our God may make us worthy of our salvation.”
Without excessive elaboration (and of course ensuring we note it is God’s work, not ours… we’ll not be being worthy by our own efforts), I’m sure you can re-quote many of our responses, “Sin has been defeated,” “We have been changed, a new creation in Christ,” “We have been redeemed, rescued, and restored,” and “We are the children of God” lends something to the effect.
Paul’s prayers are centrally focused on believers living with a primary intent, that the lives we live will resemble the reality we have in Christ.
I am persuaded to hope my future prayers look a whole lot different than they have in the past. I will continue to pray for healing and blessings (why would I not?), but these will be accommodated with more significant requests of my Father, “That each of you will grow in faith, your love for one another, and that, through every trial and persecution you endure, its end result will reveal your ability to persevere in the strength and power of Jesus Christ, so that his name will be elevated above every name on earth as it is in heaven.
“You can come and play now.”