Sermon – September 20, 2020

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 – Prayer and the Kingdom (mp3)

We are taught, if we listen well, how to pray by our Lord. This instruction, found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) as well as Luke 11, provides a template for faithful prayers, given in a memorable, if general, fashion. We do well to memorize this prayer, but we must realize that it was always meant to guide our own personal, heartfelt desires and needs. We can see something of how this was meant to work this morning as we turn to 2 Thessalonians 3. Here, Paul follows the Lord’s prayer well, whether intentionally or not, and helps us to see how to contextualize this model prayer for our own situation.

1. The petition for glory

Paul asks for prayer for himself and his compatriots, but first and foremost so that, through them, the word of God might speed ahead. The purpose of Paul’s prayers, like Jesus desires us to pray in the model prayer, is for God’s glory to be known to the world. The word runs through the world, not based on miracles or on the supernatural work of angels, but through the normal everyday means of preaching and teaching. Let us be about this business of getting the glory of God to the world!

2. The protection of God
But, Paul also knows that the world is filled with evil and wicked people. Therefore, he needs protection from them; and he also understands that the Thessalonians need protection as well. The evil one, and those who stand in the way of the word of God, both are of like desire. Yet, standing in between these two references, and over them in a sense, is the faithful One, Jesus Christ. No matter the opposition, the difficulty, or the suffering involved, Jesus is faithful to see his word go forward in the world. He will protect his people, guide them in comfort and peace, and see them through their sufferings on his behalf.

3. The provision of the good
Finally, Paul speaks of his strong confidence in the Lord, that the Thessalonians will do what he has commanded them. This assurance does not come from his knowledge of the Thessalonians, but from the Lord, who will complete the good work begun in them. Indeed, they will be continually directed to God’s love and Jesus’ steadfastness; and through these, driven to obedience.