Continuing with the prayers of Paul for his fellow believers:
In 2 Thessalonians Paul breaks up his letter with several prayers. Notice in the prayers, the reliance on God to work in the believer. Paul is continually remembering those who have faith, praying for them, knowing it’s God’s work in them, and in the world, that has the power to transform and change lives.
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.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!
Sometimes I hear people say, or I think myself, “all I can do is pray” as if prayer isn’t really doing much. But in reality prayer is one of the most important things we can do.
In 1Timothy we are encouraged to pray for all people and for our leaders in order that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (see 1 Timothy 2:1-6)
Ephesians teaches us that our battles are not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (see Ephesians 6:10-20)
Our battles are fought in a realm we don’t really understand. The idea that there really is good and evil, that there really is an ‘evil one’ (John 17:15, 1Peter 5:8, the Lord’s Prayer) that there really is a battle going on in the heavenly places is something we don’t always grasp in our views of reality.
Remembering you in my prayers…
In light of all of that, over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing some prayers from the New Testament and asking that we, like Paul did, pray for one another.
In Ephesians 1 Paul shares his prayer. As you read through the prayer pay attention to his prayer requests and to how he incorporates encouragement to those he’s praying for and praise and adoration for God.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you
the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him,
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you,
what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and
what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe,
according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23 ESV)
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16b ESV)
This morning I woke up thinking about Labor Day and about the laborers who brighten my life. As a home maker, one of the places I frequent is the grocery store, so the laborer I woke up thinking about this morning are the ones who brighten the day for those of us doing mundane things like grocery shopping.
I’ve lived in the same house for the past 20 or so years, and shop regularly at a couple of local grocery stores.
When we first moved to the area, we met Willie. Willie worked at Harris Teeter and I believe his job was to greet and care for the customers and he did a wonderful job of it. He always made us feel special and welcome. He’d talk to my children and ask about how everyone was. Once I told him we were heading off on vacation to visit my family in FL and he said wait a minute and walked off and then came back with a bag of candy which he gave us for the long drive. He was always doing things like that, things to brighten people’s day.
One of Willie’s jobs was to set up the annual Easter egg hunt behind the grocery. We didn’t usually go to these because we had a lot of other activities going on and he noticed and commented on the fact that we didn’t show up for the hunt. The next year he invited us, so we decided to go.
There were kids all over the place hunting for the eggs hidden in the grass. My son who was around two or three at the time found two eggs. Willie came up to him after the hunt and asked him what he had found. Jeremy showed him his two eggs. Willie said, “There are some children that didn’t find any eggs, can I have one of yours to give to one of them?” Jeremy handed Willie one of his eggs. Willie looked at me and smiled and I thought what a great man Willie is. He was always giving us things, always asking about us and brightening our day, but this day he gave my son the opportunity to share what he found with someone else. In his special way, Willie was teaching my son to be generous. This sticks in my mind so powerfully. He could have said aww you only found two eggs, there were a lot of children who found many more, but instead he made him feel fortunate to find two and also gave him the chance to share his good fortune.
Another time, in that same grocery store, I was shopping alone and the butcher came out from behind his work area and walked up to me with a look of concern and asked, “what’s wrong?” I was startled, and asked, “why do you ask?” He said, “You always have your kids with you, always… and they are not here.” I told him my husband had been in a bad accident, hit by a car while bicycling and was in the hospital and friends were helping me out and the children were home with some of them. He not only took time to notice, but he came and asked when he saw something was wrong and he let me know that he’d be praying for us. God brings comfort in so many ways!
These laborers, the cashiers, the bakers, the deli workers, the produce people, the ones who take time to smile, to say, “Hi, how are you? How are the kids?” (and still ask, even though they are grown), and mean it… I’ve been blessed to have them in my life and am so thankful for them. When I think of them and see their smiling faces in my mind, I ask God to remind me to pray for them and I thank him for the friendly faces and kind words of strangers.
With Father’s Day approaching, I thought it would be a good time to look at the Lord’s Prayer – Our Father who art in heaven… Following is from my archives – a brief teaching I put together for our homeschool group several years ago.
Our Father who art in heaven
For you have not received the spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:15-16
We are adopted children of God, our Father. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, but one truth my dad taught me was that family is family, and no matter what one does or doesn’t do, they are still a part of the family and will always be loved and accepted. We may get irritated with one another, exasperated, or feel any other of the myriads of emotions that go along with being closely associated with one another, but we will never quit loving and can never stop being family. In our fallen world this truth isn’t always applied, families do fall apart, relationships are torn asunder, but with God things are different. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11
We are part of God’s family now. Our Father who art in heaven allows us to call him Abba, ‘Daddy.’ We will never be alone, forsaken, or displaced. This world may get rough, things may fall apart on us, we may struggle, but we will never be alone, we will always have a family that is there for us.
Hallowed be Thy Name
Not only is God our Father, but He is Holy, He is unique, He is awesome. He is to be respected, loved, and honored. When we go to Him in prayer, we go with praise and adoration, remembering that He is our Father, but He is also all powerful, mighty, and able to do abundantly beyond our expectations. He is the founder of all and therefore able to take care of all. We go with confidence before Him, knowing His love and His mighty power.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We are to desire God’s ways, God’s truths, God’s principles to be applied to us and the world around us. As we pray for others, God’s ways should lead us in our prayers. Are we praying for workers to go out into the harvest? Are we seeking the lost?
As you think of God’s will, certain images come to mind. I would encourage you to read the following sections of scriptures and see if your images line up with God’s.
Isaiah 58, Ezekiel 34:4; 11-12; 15-16; Jonah; Matthew 11:4-6; Matthew 23
Give us this day our daily bread.
Daily we are to seek God for our provision. As we read on in Matthew, there are many verses about how God cares for us and knows our needs. I would encourage you to read the following: Matthew 6:25-34; 7:7-11.
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15
It says in Isaiah we are not to hide ourselves from our own flesh. I think this means we are to look honestly at ourselves and our dependence and need for Jesus our Savior. When we think we are better than we are, we tend to judge others harshly. When we realize what we are capable of, we tend to show mercy.
It is not always easy to forgive. I think at times like that it’s good to remember that God knows and looks upon our hearts, and knowing He knows us far better than we know ourselves, we can seek Him to change our hearts and help us to forgive.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Here we seek God for His protection, protection from within and protection from outside forces. A few good verses to read further about this are Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 8:26-39; and Jude 24-25.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever
The prayer ends with praise, reminding us Whose kingdom, Whose power and for Whose glory.
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. Rev. 4:8b
To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. Rev. 5:13b
Recently I went to a talk where a scientist from our local University, UNC-Charlotte, was speaking about bacteria. He shared that at one point in time he was working as a marine biologist in Florida and that they would go out and get samples of marine life. One of the animals they caught was the anglerfish. The anglerfish lives in the deep dark places in the oceans and uses bioluminescence to attract prey.
I find this fascinating. The anglerfish has “a piece of dorsal spine that protrudes above their mouths like a fishing pole.” National Geographic At the end of the ‘pole’ there is a bulb filled with bioluminescent bacteria. These bacteria live in symbiotic relationship with the fish. The Professor said the anglerfish farms the bacteria, proving them nutrients and purging the dead bacteria.
I looked up some other information and found that anglerfish also live in a symbiotic relationship with their mates.
When a male anglerfish finds a female, he will bite her side and become attached to her. Male anglerfish do not have the bioluminescent rod so they can’t attract prey the way females do. Eventually “the male physically fuses with the female, connecting to her skin and bloodstream and losing his eyes and all his internal organs except the testes. A female will carry six or more males on her body.” National Geographic
Another article said that the female is constantly releasing the bioluminescent bacteria into the water, providing a source of bacteria for female offspring.
The more I read about and learn about God’s creation, the more in awe of Him I become. There is such diversity, sometimes oddity, in all the amazing things He has made. When my children were younger, and we were homeschooling, I remember going to sea aquariums and looking at all the variety of fish and thinking not only is God amazing but He must have a wonderful sense of humor too.
And He gave us dominion over these animals, His creation, the work of His hands, which He loves.
The Creeds are such great reminders for us of our core beliefs as followers of Christ. With today being Pentecost, I thought it would be a great opportunity to remind myself what I believe about the Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Father to teach us, to comfort us, to help us in our weakness.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spoke by the Prophets.
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I was talking to my stepmom this morning and we were reminiscing about Ned. He was the priest at the church where I became a Christian and the priest that brought my dad back to church. We were talking about how he taught grace and taught us to bring Jesus into every situation.
My stepmom said that he taught us that we should bring Jesus into every situation, like if the toilet overflowed we should call Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – and Jesus would come, right into whatever mess we were in.
We’d go to the Wednesday night prayer and praise services, where many times everyone would end up circling the alter, holding hands and singing praise songs. After the meeting we’d go have dinner or dessert and spend hours talking about the things Jesus had done for us, about the miracles in all the everyday things we experienced. We saw Jesus in everything and we’d share our faith and our love with one another.
She said, that’s why the Bible tells us to not stop meeting and sharing with one another, because sharing causes us to see and remember, it causes us to be thankful and see God’s hand where it is. It brings us out of the mundane and into the presence of a Holy God – A Holy God who became man and walked among us, A Holy God who fills us with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, so we are never alone.
Not only did Ned preach Jesus, He lived in relationship with Him and shared Him with us. Ned was never above us, he was a fellow sinner in need of grace, but he knew where there was a fountain flowing freely and he wanted us all to know. He loved us, his congregation, and he was there for us pointing us to the true source of love through his stories, his laughter and his tears. I am so thankful that God gave us Ned at a point in my life when I truly needed Him, but you know I still need Ned’s in my life. I need people who are real, down to earth people, people who exude Jesus.