Praying Like an Apostle, Part 2: A Passion for People

If you read the first post (Praying like an Apostle: Framework and Content), let me followup by asking you a few questions.

  • Signs of Grace – Did you see your friends and family grow in love, faith, or perseverance such that it caused you to go to prayer and thank God?
  • God’s Justice – How does mediating on God’s justice help your prayer life? Are you able to refocus your attention from situations in which you may have been wronged to the return of Christ?
  • Your Calling – Have you asked God to count you worthy of your calling, and to bring that about by His power?
  • Your Goal – How does the goal of glorifying God shape your prayer life?

As we turn our attention to another of Paul’s prayers, 1 Thess 2:17-3:13, we see he is deeply motivated by a passion for people.

Paul’s Passion

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.  1 Thessalonians 2:17–20 (NIV)

Paul did not spend long with the Thessalonians, but he has an intense longing for them. He is extremely passionate about people; they are his glory and joy.

After Paul is forced to leave the Thessalonians, he is concerned for their spiritual state. He outlines this in verses 1-5 in chapter 3. In fact, he sends Timothy to “strengthen and encourage them in their faith”.

People are what the Christian life is all about–investing in people so that they grow in their faith in Christ, and their love for one another.

Timothy reports back wonderful news to Paul: that the Thessalonians are growing. This is an encouragement to Paul as He is enduring persecutions. People growing are more important to Paul than the hardships he is enduring.

People are what the Christian life is all about–investing in people so that they grow in their faith in Christ, and their love for one another.

After reiterating Timothy’s report, Paul begins to transition to the next logical step of such good news, prayer.

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians, but he does it in a way that is extremely encouraging to the Thessalonians. He is not trying to flatter the Thessalonians; he is thanking God for the signs of grace he sees in their lives, and he does it publicly in a letter.

Imagine what church would look like if we thanked God for one another consistently (Night and Day) and then told each other how we are thankful for God working in each others lives.

Paul’s Prayer

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 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.  1 Thessalonians 3:9–13 (NIV)

Paul’s prayers are the manifestations of a desire to come and actually serve the Thessalonians. He is asking God to clear a way so he can physically be with them, and based on verse 10, “supply what is lacking in their faith.” Paul’s prayer is leading to actual service. D.A Carson put’s it this way:

Prayer is not a substitute for Christian service, it is part of it.

Paul also prays that the Lord would make their love increase and overflow for each other. Paul is encouraged by their growth, and he prays for even more. In a culture where you normally show appreciation for those who can help you, Paul is praying that they love each other and others with the same love and affection Paul is showing them.

Lastly, Paul prays that God may “strengthen your hearts” so that their allegiance to Christ would continue to grow deeper and deeper into the very core of their being, their control center, their hearts. This will change people from the inside and result in their being holy and blameless in the presence of the Lord when Jesus returns.

Paul’s Prayer Reveals His Passion

Paul is passionate about people. He’s passionate about thanking God for working in peoples lives, passionate about praying in a way that leads to actual service, and passionate about people being strengthened in their faith and their love for one another so that they may one day stand before God changed because of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Paul is passionate about people, and his prayers reveal it. How do your prayers reveal your passions, and how can we we grow in our passion for people like the Apostle Paul?

Dustin Folden
Pastor Dustin Folden and his wife Trisha joined the Pastoral Staff in 2010. They have two children, Sawyer and Mackenna who absolutely love children’s ministries, mostly because of the singing and snacks. Pastor Folden shepherds the 9:30 worship service, oversees the Adult Bible Fellowship ministry, as well as serves in the Biblical Counseling Ministries.