2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
13But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
16Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.5May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Several years ago, I participated in a few small group studies written and led (via video) by mega-church Pastor Rick Warren. Through the readings and videos, we learned about various topics of faith, and we also learned about the ways Warren runs Saddleback Community Church. One thing that happens at Saddleback is that whenever Warren is preaching, there is a team of people in the building somewhere praying for him. All throughout his sermon, there are several people having conversations with God, asking God to inspire Warren's words and to open the hearts of those listening to the sermon. Warren mentioned this practice many times, lifting it up as a top priority. It's not something that happens occasionally. I got the sense that he wouldn't preach without knowing his prayer warriors were there too.
In today's reading, Paul asks his friends in Thessalonica to keep praying for him and others who are spreading the good news. On first glance, it seems like an ordinary request. We might even read right past it. "Please pray for us." But think what Paul is truly asking: Please, friends, be in constant conversation with God. Please ask God to guide the words of our mouths as we share the news with people who have not yet heard. Please pray for our safety. Please ask God to open the hearts of the people we meet. Please pave the way for the truth about Jesus to be spread all over the world.
The Christian church only continues to exist today because Paul's friends in Thessalonica and elsewhere must have prayed for him as he asked. More people heard the good news, and more people started praying. The cycle has continued throughout the centuries. It's now our turn to be part of the process.
Dear Lord, please bless our pastors as they prepare sermons and visit the sick. Help all of us to be bold in speaking about your work in our lives. Please watch over and protect our ELCA missionaries around the world. Open the hearts of those who will hear and see our message of your love and forgiveness. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Preschool Director of Education