Summary: This message is all about the importance of praying for other people. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 teaches us an important lesson: Asking for prayer is not a sign of weakness. It's a mark of dependence.
A little girl asked her grandmother, “Grandmother, how old are you?” Her grandmother said, “Sweetheart, it’s not nice to ask a woman her age.” The next day the granddaughter said, “Grandmother, how much do you weigh?” The grandmother replied, “Honey, it’s not polite to ask a woman how much she weighs.”
The next day the granddaughter said, “Grandmother, you are 68 years old and you weigh 140 pounds.” The grandmother was surprised. She said, “That’s right, how did you know?” The granddaughter said, “You left your driver’s license out on the table and I read it.”
The grandmother said, “Well, aren’t you the smart one?” The granddaughter said, “Yep. And I also saw on your license that you flunked sex.” She was a little confused.
The believers in Thessalonica were confused and upset. Some angry Jews had forced of Paul out town. He was still preaching, but he couldn’t return to these people he loved. So he started the conclusion of his letter with a request that they pray for him.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. “Finally, brothers, 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 men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”
This message is all about the importance of praying for other people. The theme of this passage teaches us an important lesson: ASKING FOR PRAYER IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS. IT’S A MARK OF DEPENDENCE.
There was a time in my ministry that I tried to stay so positive and upbeat that if someone said, “Is there anything I can do for you?” I would have smiled and said, “Nope. Everything is great; I don’t need anything.” That was when I was young and dumb. I thought if I admitted I had a need it would show that I was weak. I AM weak. I need your prayers. I’ve since learned that anytime someone asks me what they can do for me, I always say, “Please pray for me.”
Paul wasn’t afraid to tell the church he needed them to pray for him. And he gave them some specific things to pray about. One of the factors that makes our praying so weak and ineffective is that we pray such generalized prayers.
The most effective intercessory prayer is targeted prayer. Consider this illustration. During the Vietnam War, U.S. forces employed carpet-bombing. Huge B-52s flying at 30,000 feet released hundreds of bombs over cities. Some of them might hit the target, some may miss—and there was the danger of collateral damage.
But do you recall the opening days of the First Gulf War against Iraq? Iraq had invaded Kuwait and Coalition forces gathered in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait. At the time, Sadaam Hussein bragged about having the fourth largest army in the world, with over 1 million troops. He boasted about his elite Imperial Guard. If attacked, he predicted it would be the mother of all battles.
In January of 1991, Operation Desert Storm was launched with Coalition aircraft flying sorties into Iraq. They had a new weapon the Iraqis had never seen before. These were laser-guided bombs and missiles called smart bombs. Soldiers on the ground or pilots in the air could designate a target with a laser, and the smart bomb would fly into that target. After the collation forces flew several thousand sorties using smart bombs the ground war was launched. History records there was once a war named the 100 Year War, and some wars last 100 days. But the ground war of Operation Desert Storm lasted 100 hours. The Iraqi soldiers literally ran toward the enemy waving white flags of surrender.
That’s a great illustration for prayer. Some people have a Vietnam War prayer life, they just pray in generalities, like carpet-bombing. They may say, “I’m praying for you.” Or, “God bless my family.” Some people pray so generally that they never know if God answers their prayer.
But there is a kind of intercessory prayer like Desert Storm praying. It employs laser-guided prayer requests. It sends God coordinates for very specific requests. In this passage Paul designates four laser targets for our prayers.
1. PRAY FOR GOD’S TRUTH TO SPREAD
Paul wrote, “Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored.” Paul was one of God’s workers and he asked the church to pray for him. Those of us who serve the Lord here at Green Acres need your prayer. And we don’t want carpet-bombing prayer; we need some laser-guided prayers, specific targets. Every Thursday morning at 6:30 up in our Upper Room Prayer Center, which is on the third floor of Crosswalk, the highest point on our campus, intercessors gather there to pray for me and the other members of our staff team. It’s called our GAP prayer meeting. They aren’t praying generally. Each week, we give them specific prayer requests for us. You’re welcome to join them any Thursday morning to participate in laser-guided prayer for me and the other staff members. I know that I speak for all our staff members when I say, “Pray for us.”