Summary: Our lives are to be characterized by prayer. We are to be quick to pray in all circumstances, and not just in emergencies. We are to give thanks in everything through prayer.
Do you know what the key to a healthy life is? It is healthy emotions, and the healthiest emotion to have is gratitude. Gratitude actually helps our immune system. It makes us more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy because they are satisfied with what they have. An attitude of gratitude reduces stress in our lives and leads to greater spiritual and physical health.
Having an attitude of gratitude is not easy. It involves lots of prayer. Paul revealed that he needed prayer just as much as other people. He wanted to be preserved blameless. Christians must remember to pray for their spiritual leaders, because their leaders, like all Christians, will face hardships. Every hardship is a gift from God that is to be used for our growth, sanctification and intimacy with God.
God wants us to be people of prayer. Regular prayer creates intimate fellowship with God. Through prayer we discover the goodness and faithfulness of God. While taking time to get alone with God is ideal, we don’t have to limit ourselves to such times. God hears our prayers no matter where we pray.
Will God’s plan fail if we don’t pray? God does not depend on our prayers. The time we invest in speaking with God affects the work that he is doing in our lives and in the world, but he will carry on without us. Does our prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work? The answer is both yes and no, depending on the situation.
Prayer will help us to abstain from anything that might lead us to sin or look like sin to others. Prayer will help us to have pure hearts and impeccable Christian witness. Prayer will help to warn us about the dangers of sin.
We are called on to pray for our Christian leaders. We are called on to respect and obey our Christian leaders as long as what they tell us to do is in line with God’s will for our lives and as long as these leaders are true followers of Christ and not false teachers. Being a disciplinarian is not an easy task, as those of you who have children know all too well. The health of a congregation depends on commitment to standards of conduct and doctrine. Leadership is hard work with a measure of authority from God to do that work. That authority is not personal power but moral responsibility to lead and guide.
The Thessalonians were not giving their church leaders proper respect. That’s why the apostle Paul was careful to defend his apostolic authority and the apostolic authority of elders and deacons in the church. Paul accused the Thessalonians of being unruly and out of line. Fellow believers must warn those who refuse to walk in unity with the Christian family. Believers must encourage those who are unruly, weak or new in the faith.
Part of the role of leadership involves discipline. All Christians share that responsibility. We are to tame the unruly and comfort those who are weak in body, mind and spirit. That includes praying for them. Discipline must be tempered with patience. There is no room for retaliation. Patience and discipline must have the ultimate goal of restoration and reconciliation. Jesus outlines the steps to take when imposing discipline in Matthew 18:15-17: