I really like this prayer of Paul's. There is an element of excitement and joy running throughout it. One really needs to back up just a bit to have a little more understanding regarding this prayer. There are three circumstances which brought about this prayer.
- This prayer arises out of an intense longing to be with these people. Look back at 1 Thessalonians 2:17, "But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while--in person, not in spirit--were all the more eager with great desire to your face."
- The passion and affection Paul had for these people caused him to have a greater concern for others than for himself. He abandons his own interests for the sake of the others. "Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this" 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3.
- Paul thought the worst...that their faith would be completely undercut. He cannot contain himself when he fns out they are still growing in their faith. "But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has broguht us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see s just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about yu through your faith" 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7.
I see four elements to Paul's prayer:
- vs.9: "For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account..." To me, this is a prayer rich in thankfulness to God. Because their faith is growing, he tells the people he has given thanks. Rather than thanking them Paul has thanked God. By giving thanks indirectly (by way of God) the people have nothing to brag about. It's the grace of God working in and through their lives. Think about our society today...we live in an era of self promotion rather than giving praise to God.
- vs. 10: "As we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?" Here Paul prays that he might have a part in their spiritual development. He desired to have opportunities to still minister to them. It makes me think that maybe prayer isn't Christian "service" but a prelude to Christian service.
- vs 12: "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..." Here Paul is praying that they might be people who overflow with love toward others. Our love for others should be a visible mark of Christians rather than focusing on our own selves.
- vs. 13: "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." Paul prays that they will be so strengthened in heart that they will be whole and blameless. He desires they achieve a level of maturity in which they would be saintly, not snobbish, which would continue all the way till the coming of our Lord.
Paul opens his heart. He is exercised. He prays for them and his heart opens up. The bottom line is living a life of holiness, step by step, until the coming of the Lord.
As I read through this and looked at it, I couldn't help but see the correlation of parents with their children once they have left home. We are eager (at least this Mom and Dad are) to see his face and to see how he is coping spiritually. We give thanks to God for our son as we hear and see how he is walking with the Lord, maturing in his relationship with the Lord. And, we rejoice to see how he desires to share the Lord with the men around him. There truly is no greater joy for parents than to see their children walking in the Truth. That goes for your physical children the Lord has blessed you with, as well as your spiritual children which the Lord has blessed you with. As you disciple and they in turn step out and away from you, how thrilling to see them carry on, faithfully growing in the Lord.
On a side note, our son had his formation solo today. It went great, a solid flight. Looks like Tuesday for his final check ride. He has his second low level flight tomorrow. He did his first one today and had his solo. It is winding down which means our count down to see him is getting shorter!!
My sister arrived tonight! I am looking forward to having time with her before we leave. Getting caught up in person, face to face, rather than over the phone or through the computer...anyway, I'm not sure how much blogging I'll get done. Probably some but not on a regular basis. I don't think the world will fall apart... :)