Summary: "Mutual Prayer for Difficult Times" is an exposition of 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. There is a powerful dynamic that works when pastor and people pray for one another, when saints pray for one another.
MUTUAL PRAYER FOR DIFFICULT TIMES
In this brief letter to the young church at Thessalonica, Paul teaches about the last days or end times. There was confusion about the second coming of Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul discusses the coming of the Lord to rapture the saints. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Paul discusses the Day of the Lord that will consummate history. But confusion apparently remained. So Paul wrote this second letter to the church. In chapter 1, Paul again discusses the coming of the Lord. In chapter 2, Paul discusses the man of lawless who will oppose Christ. In chapter 3, Paul exhorts the church to live in light of the imminent return of Christ.
This is the pattern when the Second Coming is addressed. There is explanation and then exhortation. The New Testament is emphatic that Jesus is coming again. The Lord will return to the earth physically and majestically and unexpectedly. But Christ’s imminent return is not an excuse to disconnect from the real world or live irresponsibly. We are to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This letter begins with the reality of the last days. It ends with the responsibility of the saints as we live in the last days. Between these two sections there is the resource the church can access until Jesus returns. It is the privilege and power of prayer. Paul was facing difficulties in Corinth. And the saints were facing difficulties in Thessalonica. But Paul knew a way they could help one another through their difficult times. He says, “You pray for me. And I will pray for you.” There is a dynamic power that works when pastor and people pray for one another, when the saints pray for one another. But it can only be accessed when our focus is on the Lord. Paul and the Thessalonians prayed for one another. But the primary concern of their mutual prayers was not themselves. It was about Lord, who is mentioned four times in these five verses. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 teaches three spiritual priorities that should consume our prayers for one another.
I. THE WORD OF THE LORD
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 says: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” Chapter 2 of this letter ends with Paul’s prayer for the church at Thessalonica. Chapter 3 begins with a prayer request Paul makes to the church. Verse 1 says, “Finally, brothers, pray for us.” This request is not unique. Paul frequently solicited the prayers of the saints. 1 Thessalonians 5:25 also reads: “Brothers, pray for us.” Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. The Thessalonians were brand new Christians. Yet Paul did not think they were too little pray for him. And he did not think he was too big to ask for their prayers. Paul humbly requested, “Brothers, pray for us.” This request is in a grammatical emphasis that denotes continual action. He solicited their ongoing prayers. Paul’s example reminds us that we never reach a place where we do not need others to pray for us.