Paul yearns to see the Word of God, the gospel of Christ, race across the world, knowing that the Day of the Lord is coming, when there will be no more days left to preach.
By Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., at www.albertmohler.com
If you want to know what people really believe, the philosopher Roger Scruton once explained, listen to them pray. It is one thing to ask a person what he believes, but it is another thing to listen to him pray. Prayers reveal the underlying theology. As the old Latin formula reminds us, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi — As we pray, so we believe.
I think we can safely take Roger Scruton’s point one step further. We learn a great deal about someone by what they ask others to pray for. That point draws me to the Apostle Paul, and to his prayer requests as found in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5.
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
Paul has already written to the Christians in Thessalonica, thankful that their faith was growing abundantly and that their mutual love in Christ was increasing. He has assured them of the ultimate victory of Christ and warned them to be watchful of the coming Day of the Lord.
“So then, brothers,” Paul had written, “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by spoken word or by our letter.” [2:15] Paul then prayed for these believers, for whom he had long toiled and to whom he had so faithfully preached: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” [2:16-17]
Only then did Paul ask the Thessalonians to pray for him, along with his gospel companions Timothy and Silvanus. Finally, he asks, pray for us “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.”
Paul continued by asking the church to pray that he and the other evangelists would be “delivered from wicked and evil men,” knowing that the gospel of Christ has enemies. Paul wanted the Thessalonians to pray that the gospel would go forth unhindered by opposition and unstoppable in the face of the wicked and the evil.
Paul was confident that the church would be protected from the evil one, and he expressed confidence that the Thessalonian Christians would be faithful to his instruction “and will do the things that we command.”
What strikes me most powerfully is the words that the Apostle uses to make the central thrust of his request for prayer clear — “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored.”
This commencement address was delivered by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on Friday, May 20, 2016.