Hello, welcome to today’s Foundations reflection. Today’s passage is 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13.
Today is Thursday 14th June. Of course you know what that means I’m sure, but I’ll say it anyway. Today is the start of the world cup! Every four years the excitement steadily builds as 32 teams from all over the globe gather to see if their team can beat the odds and come away with the trophy. Almost half of the world’s population will watch at least some of the action. A good deal of those will wear their tried and tested lucky socks and some will be shouting at the TV as if the outcome depends on their efforts and their efforts alone. There will be plenty of others as well offering increasing desperate prayers, particularly around the time of any penalty shoot outs.
Luckily for us, this frustrated, last chance saloon prayer model isn’t the one that is being showcased to us in this passage. Here we have Paul giving a prayer of blessing. This is quite a nice link between the first part of the letter which has been very familiar and story like in its retelling of recent events, and the next part of the letter, where Paul will move on to giving some advice and instruction. There are some great things to learn about prayer here though, this is great inspiration for what prayer can be. There are three things we can take away from this prayer, let’s take a brief look at them one at a time.
The first is that prayer starts with acknowledging who God is and that all we have comes from Him. We do that in the Lord’s Prayer don’t we? We start with our Father in Heaven. Another form of that is starting prayers with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving not only helps us express our gratitude to God, but also reminds us of all the things God has done for us. It reminds us that God can change our circumstances. It reminds us that God can bring about change where we need transformation and that He can bring about fruit in our lives. Starting prayers with a reminder of who God is, isn’t about grovelling before Him trying to get Him onside. It’s reminding us that we pray to a powerful, loving Father.
The next thing that we can take from this prayer comes again from that first verse, verse 11. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. This is a simple but important point. It’s ok to pray for ourselves! That might sound basic but we often get caught up in all the things we ‘should’ be praying for that we forget to ask God for what we need for the day. Again the Lord’s prayer comes to mind: “give us today our daily bread”. This isn’t about coming with a shopping list, but about approaching God and saying ‘here’s what’s really on my mind for the day’. I give it to you God, would you move in this situation. It’s important to pray for ourselves.
Finally this prayer reminds us to pray for others. This is key for us this week as we consider the topic of how to relate to those around us. Verses 12 and 13 both speak into this. Verse 12 asks that the Thessalonians will increase in love. In a wider sense, we could see this as Paul asking for blessings and breakthrough in the now, in the present for the Thessalonians. Supply all they need Lord. Bless them. Verse 13 talks of them being holy and blameless before God. The big picture of this is praying for the eternal. Praying for our friends, family, colleagues and neighbours to know Jesus. Often when young people get baptised here at STC their family come to celebrate with them. Often they come with the story of praying for 20 years for this day. I’m always inspired when I hear that. Praying for people has a massive impact on how we relate to them. When we bring people before God in prayer He helps us to see them through His eyes.
Today let’s make sure we’re praying for the people around us.
Father thank you for this great reminder of prayer. Thank you that when we pray you not only listen, but speak back to us as well. Help us to be mindful of what you might be saying to us today. Amen.
READING: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.