I have made it my goal to write short posts reflecting on my devotional reading every day. These posts are composed off the cuff, in 30 minutes or less. The following is one such post. Before writing this post, I read: 1 Thessalonians 1, Psalm 35, Ecclesiastes 4.
Paul’s letters all open with a common pattern: he gives the typical introduction of his era with his own name and those of his co-authors, and then proceeds to explain how he prays for the people to whom he is writing. I read once of someone who went through and looked at all the things Paul prays for people in his epistles and used those as a basis for his own prayers for others. That seems a remarkably good idea to me. Paul’s heart for each and every church to which he ministered is readily apparent.
I hope and pray that as I step more and more into ministry, my own heart would be so dedicated to the good of those whom I serve, and that I would be so faithful as Paul was to pray regularly for them. I have a long way to go in this; I do not pray as much even for my own family and friends as I would like. Jaimie and I have made prayer a regular part of our lives by sitting down as a family together to pray every night before we put Elayne to bed, and I pray at times throughout the day. These are good things. I am glad we have taken these steps to make prayer a regular part of our lives. Even so, I am much less dedicated and disciplined in prayer than many I know and especially than the many heroes of the faith who distinguished themselves in large part through the faithfulness of their prayers and their trust that God would answer.
The content of Paul’s prayers is just as important as their frequency, though. Reading 1 Thessalonians 1 reminded me of the kinds of things I ought to be praying, as well as that I ought to be praying. In this particular introduction, Paul is above all grateful to God for the Thessalonians’ “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” This faithfulness before God resounded throughout the early church; these believers had a reputation for their perseverance in the face of persecution and their love of God. What a thing to start praying for the believers I know, and especially for my church and the missionaries we have sent out: that we would be known for our faith, love, and steadfast hope in Jesus Christ; that we would persevere in the face of challenges to our faith and even outright persecution; that the testimony of our deeds would go forth and be an encouragement to the rest of the Church.
Resolved, then: to pray more faithfully for my fellow saints, first of all at First Baptist Church of Durham and then in the other churches I know and love and then throughout the world as I hear of them; and to pray more thoughtfully and wisely for God to make of us all the kinds of people over whom Paul was rejoicing in these early verses of this letter. Amen.