Prayer And Handling Free Loafers

We as Christians are often called to pray for our fellow believers and do so gladly.  We may know someone who is ill or going through a tough time and so we pray that they be healed and given strength.  We pray that people have safe travels and we pray that they be comforted when someone passes away.  We pray for deliverance from difficult circumstances as well as financial miracles to come our way.  I love to model my prayers on the most famous prayer of all The Lord’s Prayer and I am sure many of you do as well.  You can read it in Matthew chapter six.  I want to show you something I ran across the other day in scripture about praying for others.

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, (New International Version or NIV).  

The Apostle Paul is encouraging the believers in Thessalonica to pray for the spread of the gospel.  I have to be honest, I seldom do this.  I think, however, it is a very important prayer to be praying.  I have missionary friends all across the world that I pray for.  I pray for their safety, for their health, for their needs to be met and for their ministry but I seldom think to pray that they be instruments of the Lord for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ across the globe.  I am so thankful that God answered these believer’s prayers for the gospel to spread or otherwise I would not have the joy of my own salvation!  Someone prayed for someone else to tell someone and all through the generations people have been spreading the gospel and I know this because I heard it from someone.  That is how you learned that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, the first-born of the dead, and went to heaven to prepare a place for you.  That is the gospel message.  We need to be praying for those souls brave enough to leave home and travel the world telling the good news of Jesus Christ.

We also need to pray for deliverance from evil and wicked people.  If Paul and Silas and Timothy and Barnabas needed prayers for deliverance from the evil in their world then our missionaries today need such prayers as well.  We could also pray for each other that we do not fall into the hands of evil people also.  But are we praying such a prayer?  I must do a better job of praying for anyone who is out in this wicked world preaching and teaching others about Christ.  God protected Paul even while he was in prison and so I can trust God to protect the missionaries that I know as well but I have to pray for them first in order for them to be protected!  I can also pray for my pastor and you can for yours.  Pastors are often called into situations that are not easy to deal with and we need to lift them up in prayer for protection and for strength and boldness to speak just as we do for our missionaries.

We need to pray for ourselves.  Paul says that the Lord is faithful in protecting us from the evil one and I know this to be true but prayer helps.  Prayer reminds me that I am special to God even if I am not special to anyone else.  Prayer also reminds me that I have a relationship with God and that talking to Him in prayer is one way to stay connected to Him.  Bible study is another way to be connected to God.  I think of reading the Bible as plugging in an electrical cord to an outlet, heaven is on the other side of the outlet but the cord that runs from the outlet to me is prayer.  I can’t get plugged in to God unless I pray.  Protection that comes from God is so necessary in this evil world today and I am thankful that I can pray anywhere and at any time and God will hear my prayer.  What a blessing that is!

Paul changes his focus from prayer to obedience and our behaviors in the next section of this passage.  I think it is worth a look too.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.  Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.  3 Thessalonians 3:6-15, (NIV).

Just like today there were unemployed people back in Paul’s day and they seemed to be free-loading off the church.  These unemployed persons were causing a problem in the church as they were gossiping and not living a life that was pleasing to God.  These people were causing problems and disruptive.  I can only imagine what the disruptions were.  Maybe they were loud and obnoxious.  Maybe they were pulling pranks and teasing too much.  Maybe they were partying rather than working.  Or maybe they were making a mess for the hard-working ones to clean up after.  I love what Paul tells them.  Paul tells them to go to work.  My uncle said when he was four years old to his brother age two when their Mom told them to put their toys away, “No worky no eaty!”   Little did he know at his age that this was a Biblical concept.  Paul tells the church to cut these free-loafing idle gossiping trouble makers off and have nothing to do with them if they don’t go to work and pay their own way in life.  Kick them out and do so in order that they will feel ashamed of themselves and want to repent.  I think that this is advice some parents need to hear concerning their adult children still living at home and unemployed.  It is hard to do but it is important to not allow others to be taken advantage of.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like being around people who are obnoxious so it is not hard for me to not associate with them.  We can always pray for them because we know our God is merciful and gracious and loving and kind, right?

To wrap things up we need to pray for our missionaries and our fellow Christians as well as ourselves.  We can also pray for those who are not living life as they should and sometimes that my even be someone in our family.  Don’t associate with people who aren’t working and minding their own business until they straighten up and live as they should.  Tough to hear but important to do.

Until next time…Katherine

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