Can someone learn how to pray? While it may seem like an obvious "yes" answer, there are some who live like they cannot learn to pray better prayers.
They have limited themselves to shallow "God is good. God is great. Let us thank him for this food" and "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayers.
Luke 11:1-2 may be familiar verses to some, it provides an interesting challenge. The Jewish followers of Jesus probably know some basic things about prayer and yet know this is something they can learn from Jesus. They ask "Lord, teach us to pray." They have observed the prayers and life of Jesus, John and the disciples of John.
Jesus' response to their question was not "Come on guys, you know this." He said, "When you pray say..." Jesus wanted to see the disciples grow spiritually.
Paul is the same as it relates to wanting to see God's people grow in their walk with God.
This week's prayer is 1st Thessalonians 3:9 - 13 In Praying With Paul, D.A. Carson provides some interesting content by beginning the chapter study with chapter two verse seventeen. Paul's intense longing and great desire drive him to pray for God's people. His prayers show that he is seeking the good of others. Carson writes:
The issue is service, the service of real people. The question is How can I be most useful?, not, How can I feel most useful?, not, How can I feel most useful? The goal is, How can I best glorify God by serving his people?, not, How can I feel most comfortable and appreciated while engaging in some acceptable form of Christian ministry? The assumption is How shall the Christian service to which God calls me be enhanced by my daily death, by my principled commitment to take up my principled commitment to take up my cross daily and die?, not, How shall the form of service I am considering enhance my career [and name]?Paul's desire to be with the church is a desire to be with them to help them grow. Paul's prayers for people come from his passion for people. (85) "If we are to improve our praying, we must strengthen our loving." (85) It is not a narcissistic "I need you to feel good about myself" prayer.
The prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3:9 - 13 is filled with practical things to remember in your own prayers.
- What we need is a prayer life that thanks God for the people of God, and then tells the people of God what we thank God for. (88)
- Paul doesn't just pray that the people would be strengthened. He prays that he would be used by God to strengthen the church.
- Paul prays that the Thessalonians would love one another and others just as he did.
- Paul prays that God might strengthen them so that they could live the life God wants them to live.
As a pastor/preacher, what would you do if you were invited to preach at a church that holds a different view of the purpose of the church? Here is what Matt Chandler did.
The full sermon Tim Challies references in #3 of the Great Sermon series. It would be helpful to watch the video above