Studies in I Thessalonians
How’s your prayer life? I know mine can use help, both in terms of quality and quantity, content and fervency. We need an example of both.
As New Covenant believers who embrace the New Testament, we are in a sense disciples of Paul, himself a disciple of Christ. He said we are to imitate him as he imitates the Lord. So today’s article seeks to encourage us to pray like Paul as we continue our series through I Thessalonians.
“Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” (I Thess. 3:11-13, NASB, 1995).
To whom do we pray? Paul addresses both the Father and the Son, implying their equality in divinity and power. Did you know you can pray directly to either? This prayer presents a very strong claim to the Deity and Lordship of Christ. First there is a plural subject but a singular verb. The two are one! Next, we remember from all through the Old Testament that only God is worthy to be addressed in prayer. Here Jesus is addressed in prayer. Therefore Jesus is fully God.
The Bible never gives us an approved instance of praying to Mary or dead saints or martyrs or angels or anyone other than God Himself. May God the Father and Jesus our Lord have their proper place in our worship and prayers!
Scholar and commentator D. Edmond Hiebert wrote of this prayer: “One can hardly conceive of a stronger way for Paul to indicate … the lordship of Jesus and His oneness with the Father.”
Here then is a prayer that is brief yet spiritually alert, theologically deep and eschatologically sensitive as he prays in light of “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” The end of the age should always be pressing into our prayers.
There are great lessons here for pastors and all praying Christians.
First, we must express complete dependence on God’s providence not miracles (v.11).
Providence is God’s sustaining, cooperating with and orchestrating all creation to fulfill His will and purposes. It is God’s preserving and governing His creation to reach His intended goals and final outcome. This is a greatly neglected truth in our day.
The God of the Bible is not part of creation, that’s pantheism. He didn’t create and abandon creation, that’s deism. Our universe is not ruled by chance or randomness, that’s atheism. And events in our lives are not determined by impersonal fate or luck, that’s determinism or fatalism.
Rather, a personal and Almighty Creator first created and now preserves, cooperates with and governs all things for His own glory and the good of His people.
Here are some important verses to consider …
So Paul prays: May God the Father and Jesus direct or guide our way to you. Here then is total dependence on God’s providential vs. miraculous activity.
His request is for his Father and Savior to pave the way and blaze the trial, clearing the path and removing the Satanic barriers that were preventing Paul’s visit. His prayer would not be answered for about five years!
Friends, our travel and ministry success doesn’t ultimately depend on our legs, truck or Delta Airlines. It depends on God.
We do not trust in our personal plans, effort, talents, money, medicine, or government to facilitate ministry, though God may use all of these.
We don’t rashly pray to be teleported like Philip when faced with a traffic jam on the way to the airport. We pray God would so work that if He wants us on our scheduled flight, He will provide the way. He may want to stick us in an airport for several hours.
To pray like Paul, we must totally submit all plans, health, weather, travel, favor of others, protection from evil, indeed all things to God’s sovereign and close control, His favorable disposition and protection. God rules and reigns, not Satan!
Our impatience only serves to reveal we trust in something other than God’s providential control of our circumstances.
God doesn’t wear a watch and He’s not bound to our calendar. He works in time but exists outside of time. The Almighty can’t be rushed, controlled, tamed or manipulated by mortal creatures but He can be trusted.
Our God is never rash, rushed or in panic mode. He is always calm, cool and collected when it comes to orchestrating the events on planet earth.
As the beloved hymn says: “Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might.” (Walter Chalmers Smith, Immortal, Invisible).
Until next time, trust God.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight