Paul is signing off on the final paragraphs of his letter to the Thessalonians when he asks them to pray for he and his band of leaders who are leading the way in spreading the messsage of the Gospel. He asks for prayer in two separate areas:
First, he asks that the Thessalonians would pray that their message would be accepted quickly and that the messsage would be honored. Paul isn’t asking that they pray that he or his team would be honored. In fact, he even goes on to talk shortly after that they could have demanded payment for the work that they had been doing, but didn’t because they wanted to give the Thessalonians an example to follow.
So he isn’t saying that they should pray for he and his team’s well-being, nor that they would be honored where they are working. Instead, he is asking that they pray that the message of the Gospel would be honored and that it would spread quickly.
Paul is concerned that Jesus would receive honor and glory as a result of his work. He is pouring out his life on behalf of Jesus, working for what is eternal, not for what is temporal. Not for now, but forever. This is Paul’s concern.
He also asks them to pray that God would protect them from evil people. Where they are working, they are being persecuted by the Jews who are against the message of Jesus as the crucified Messiah, often just because they are jealous of the crowds that Paul and his team are drawing instead of them.
In addition, they are working in the midst of people who are worshiping the Greek gods, offering sacrifices in the temples and organizing their daily lives around the religious activities prescribed for the worship of these man-made, false gods. These activities create much of the culture of the area where Paul is working. In fact, he is writing this letter from Corinth on the peninsula of Achaia, the in heart of the Greek empire, very near Athens. Paul has gone into the heart of the people who are opposed to his message of Jesus and is being opposed at every turn, and so for this, he is asking the Thessalonians to pray that God will deliver them from evil people so that their message can move forward.
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
In the same way, we should also be working, taking the message into the midst of the people who do not know it.
We need to rely on God’s help for the spread of that message and for his protection and deliverance from people who oppose it.
And we need to ask others to stand with us as we do these things. Those that are working in the areas where they are living, those who are faithful and are showing themselves to faithfully continue to make Jesus known in both actions and in words, in these people we should confide our needs and our prayers, asking each other to call out to God for help.
God, I pray that you will raise up a community of people that are faithful to who you are and what you have called us to do. I pray that this community will not only do what they have been called to do, but will hold one another up in prayer and cheer each other on in Christ. Thank you, Father for what you have done, and I pray for more and more of your work in our lives and in the lives of those around us each day!