Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PRAY FOR THE PREACHER!”

Second Thessalonians 3.1-5

 

This evening’s message is going to be rather difficult. Not difficult to preach so much as difficult for some of you to receive. Turn to Second Thessalonians chapter 3.

The reason this message will be difficult for some of you to receive is because, for some of you at least, this message may fly contrary to some of your preconceived notions. You know what preconceived notions are do not you? They are notions held by people who already have their minds made up about something, and they find facts that seem to be inconsistent with their views a bit difficult to handle.

Some people are so protective of their preconceived notions related to spiritual matters that Biblical truth does not have much of a chance finding its way into their thinking. Please guard against that type of thinking this evening.

Let me suggest some things that will ensure more open lines of communication:

#1  When you have a belief, decide that God is honored when you make sure your belief is based upon the Word of God, rather than some preconceived notion or widely held fiction.

#2  When I am finished preaching a message, if you have any questions or problems, either with what I have said or with what someone told you I said, feel free to come to me with your questions. I would only ask that you try not to approach me immediately after my message, okay, for two reasons. First, because intelligent conversation is beyond me immediately after I preach. I am just too tired, and it takes me a few minutes to recover. Second, because I am usually walking directly toward a visitor I have not yet managed to introduce myself to.

Let us examine that controversial topic that you may have preconceived notions about. That topic is . . . “Why do the great men of God seem to have such power with God?”

Some folks will jump up and say, “They have power with God because they are filled with the Holy Ghost!” I appreciate what you are saying, but I would respond by observing there are a great many Spirit-filled Christians who do not seem to have unusual power with God.

Still others, boasting superior Bible knowledge and pious spirituality, would say, “It’s entirely related to the sovereignty of God.” Folks, there are few people in this building who have been as comforted and encouraged, during the wee hours of the morning and amidst days of great frustration and heartache in my ministry, by the sovereignty of God as I have been. However, the sovereignty of God was not the only commentary on Paul’s power with God. Or Wesley’s. Or Whitefield’s. Or Edwards’. Or Nettleton’s. Or Spurgeon’s. Acknowledge that the sovereignty of God was certainly the final commentary on those men’s effectiveness in service to God, but my concern at this time has to do with means.

A third group, calling themselves the fellowship crowd, might say, “Unity! There can be no power to win souls without unity.” To those with such a response I would say, “Yes, unity is important for the blessings of God in bringing souls to Christ. However, there is still a more fundamental explanation as to why some men seem to enjoy wonderful success, while others do not. By success, I am not referring to successful manipulation, successful salesmanship, successful motivation, or successful marketing. By success, I am referring to real conversions that stick, that last, that result on long-term Christianity.

As well, let me caution you against thinking that preachers are necessarily more spiritual, or that they are always better men, either, because they are not necessarily. God chooses the base things of this world that no flesh should glory in His sight.

What is it, then, that explains a man’s power with God, a man’s fruitfulness for God? I think I know what the means is. No, I know I know what the means is.

In First Thessalonians 5.25, the most spiritually powerful product of the grace of God that ever walked this earth clued us in when he wrote, “Brethren, pray for us.”

That was the apostle Paul, and he certainly knew what he was talking about. After being used of God to meet need after need after need, Paul expressed his one overriding need to his readers. He needed their prayers. He needed and received nothing material from them. Neither support nor offerings. However, he had to have their prayers.

People knew how to pray in Paul’s day. Christians knew how to pray in Wesley’s, in Whitefield’s, in Edwards’, and in Nettleton’s day. How many Christians pray for their preachers today? How many Christians know how to pray for their preachers these days?

Spurgeon may have been the greatest preacher of his hour because he had deacons who prayed for him under his pulpit while he preached. They prayed down the power of God on that man. Their prayers were the instrumental means of God’s blessings upon that man’s preaching. However, how many people know that more than a thousand people gathered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle every Monday night to plead with God for their preacher and his preaching?

What Paul knew, and what Wesley, and Whitefield, and Spurgeon, and Nettleton knew is something that many, many Christians do not know these days. For your pastor to have continuing and effectual power in his life and on his ministry, you must pray to God and not ask for that power. You must not be content to merely ask. My friends, you must plead.

Paul knew the prayers of Christians were a vital key to his ministry. He knew he was not alone in his ministry, so he gave his friends in Thessalonica two reasons to pray for him.

 

CHRISTIANS ARE URGED TO PRAY BY REASON OF APPEAL

 

1      Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

2      And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

 

Paul urged those folks to pray for two general things:

 

First, he urged prayer for persons. Oftentimes you will hear some kid pray, “Dear Lord, bless everyone.” Perhaps you will even hear a new Christian pray that kind of prayer. A teenage boy in Brawley, where my first pastorate was located, once prayed this prayer in my hearing: “Dear God, save everybody.”

Such prayers are quite sincere, I am sure, but they miss the mark of Bible praying. Bible praying is appealing, asking God for specifics, not just voicing general desires. What does that mean? It means that in prayer, God wants you and me to pray for specific people. It is His desire that we call out their names before Him.

Notice that the specific people Paul wanted the Thessalonians to pray for were Paul himself, Silvanus, and Timothy. Though he had a right to insist on material support from them, verses 8 and 9 of this chapter reveal that he neither demanded nor received material support of any kind. All he wanted, and all he really needed from them, was prayer.

Folks, if the great apostle Paul needed their prayers, does it not stand to reason that I need your prayers? Pray for me specifically by name when you are on your knees before God, and when you are muttering those brief and passing prayers uttered during the course of the day.

However, that was not all. Paul also urged prayer for particulars. In addition to praying for people, they were to pray, particularly, that the Word of God would run its course and be glorified in the lives of others, as it had been glorified in their own lives. Look back to First Thessalonians 1.5-10 with me:

 

5      For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

6      And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

7      So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

8      For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

9      For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

10     And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

 

Do you want that to happen to the folks I preach to? I want that to happen to folks when I preach. Not only that, I do not want it to happen from time to time. I want that to be the regular and consistent result after I preach. That means you have to pray to that end.

Do you pray for men and women in uniform? Good. Then pray even more for the soldiers of the cross who wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Paul’s readers were also to pray, particularly, for the protection of the preachers. Let us read verse 2 of our text again: “And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.” When he says “we,” Paul is referring to himself and to his co-laborers.

Now, look at that word “delivered.” It refers to being rescued or preserved from something.[1] However, Paul is not referring directly to the salvation of anyone’s soul here. He wants to be rescued from two kinds of people he regularly encounters in his gospel ministry, those who are unreasonable, and those who are wicked. “Unreasonable” refers to people who are absurd, people who are weird, people who are just bizarre.[2] These are people that you cannot sit down and reason with, because they always go off on you. They do not have problems with people they are the problem. God deliver me from such people as this.

Then there are “wicked” people. “Wicked” refers to those who are evil.[3] These people will just do wrong to do wrong, commit sin just to commit sin. Such people are a great danger to me, because they will seek to destroy me for no other reason than because I am God’s man. God deliver me from such as these, as well.

So you see, though my ministry is people, my greatest problems are also people. Pray that God will use me to effectively communicate truth to folks, and that unreasonable folks, and wicked folks, will not create obstacles to my usefulness.

My friends, Satan will attack, using folks who are unreasonable, as well as folks who are wicked, in an attempt to discredit, discourage, and defeat. Paul knew this. That is why he asked his friends to pray for him and his fellow missionaries. I am asking you to pray for me, as well.

 

CHRISTIANS ARE ALSO URGED TO PRAY BY REASON OF ASSURANCE

 

3      But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

4      And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.

5      And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

 

In verses 1 and 2, Paul appealed to them to pray for him. In verses 3-5, he assures them that prayers for him will be effective in his ministry. There were three sources of assurance he used:

Assurance is derived, first, from God’s faithfulness, verse 3: “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”

Oftentimes Christians are too concerned about their own problems to pray for others. Do you find that to be true of you? However, Paul assures us, based upon the faithfulness of God, that God will stabilize you and protect you. Therefore, praying for me, or for anyone else, will not, cannot, harm you or weaken your personal defenses in any way. Therefore, there is assurance, based upon the faithfulness of God, that you can never harm yourself by praying for another person. So pray for me.

Assurance is derived, second, from confidence, verse 4: “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”

Never place your confidence in men. Paul never did. Such a practice keeps you from getting let down; if you make sure you never place your confidence in men. Love good men, but place no confidence in them, but in the Lord. Depending upon Him is another matter, entirely. You can always trust the Lord, and in what He will do. Amen? Do you see how closely this verse parallels Philippians 2.13? “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Paul had confidence that God would work in their hearts to do right by him. He trusted God to work in their lives to bring them to pray for him. You folks pray for me.

Finally, assurance is derived from direction, verse 5: “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”

People get scared when they do not know where they are going. However, we can be comforted by the knowledge that God is directing you and me along a specific course. The wonderful thing is, He lets us know what direction that is. It is in the direction of the love of God and the patient waiting for Christ. No need for us to worry. No need for us to get scared. We who know Christ are on a preset course according to the plan and purpose of God. As we travel down that road, we will grow in love for God and for the things God loves, and we will develop greater courage to patiently endure the things that come our way until Christ comes for us.

Do you know what that assurance did for a Thessalonian Christian going through persecution? It would calm him down. It would allay his fears, so he could pray for his preacher. It can do the same for you, too.

 

My dear friends, I need you to pray for me . . . personally.

I need you to pray that God’s power will be on my life and ministry as I proclaim divine truth and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

I need you to pray that God will protect me, keep me clean from sin, guard me from Satan’s devices and temptations, and from unreasonable and wicked men and women who would hinder me and try to destroy me.

You can be assured that such prayers for me will be good for you . . . as well as good for me. You will get a better pastor, and I will be a better pastor.



[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 611.

[2] Ibid.

[3] G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon Of The New Testament, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark Ltd, 1986), page 372.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org