How to revive the suffering Encouragement from the present: What to pray for believers who suffer – Part 2
31st May 2020

How to revive the suffering Encouragement from the present: What to pray for believers who suffer – Part 2

Passage: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
How to revive the suffering
Encouragement from the present – Part 2
What to pray for believers who suffer

What's the first thing you want when you see other believers suffer:
• Sickness, Persecution, Immanent Death
• Healing? Deliverance?
These may be appropriate requests, but they may not be the best.

We have seen that God uses suffering as a means to prove your election.
• It's also a means of discipline by which we come to share in His holiness.

So, God uses suffering to bring about good in our lives.

While I don't want to discourage you from beseeching God for healing and deliverance when these are called for, I want you to see that there's something far better than these.

Paul's prayer will show you what that better thing is.


So, Paul's prayer will serve as an example of how to pray for suffering believers.

We'll study his prayer under three headings:
The Petition of his prayer
The Purpose of his prayer
The power of his prayer

The Petition of his prayer
11a: Paul has two petitions = The first is that the believers may be made worthy of their calling
• The calling of believers is a favourite theme with Paul

  • Rom. 8:30
  • 1 Cor. 1:9
  • 2 Tim. 1:9
    • It's clearly God Who calls believers
      • Examples = Abraham, Israel, the Apostles
        • The fact of God's call is even written in our name = ἐκκλησίᾳ
          • Translated as 'church' – translated directly = called out ones

But God doesn't merely call us out – Rom. 8:28 indicates that God has a purpose to which He calls us

Q = What is that Purpose?
A study of the NT shows that God has an ultimate and a temporal purpose when He calls us

  • Ultimate Purpose
    • 2 Thess. 2:14 Called unto glorification
    • 1 Tim. 6:12 Called unto eternal life
    • Heb. 9:15 Unto an eternal inheritance
    • 1 Pet. 3:9 To inherit a blessing
    • 1 Pet. 5:10 To His eternal glory

Summary: God's Ultimate Purpose in calling us out of the world is that we may inherit the kingdom of God

  • Temporal Purpose
    • Rom. 9:23-26 To be God's beloved sons and daughters
    • Gal. 5:13 To live in the Power of the Holy Spirit
    • Eph. 4:1-6, Col. 3:15 To unity in the body of Christ
    • 1 Thess. 4:7 Unto sanctification
    • 1 Pet. 1:15 Unto holiness
    • 1 Pet. 2:9 To proclaim His excellencies
    • 1 Pet. 2:21 To patiently endure suffering for doing what is right
    • Rom. 8:28-29 To be conformed to the image of His Son
    • John 15:16 To bear spiritual fruit and receive answers to our prayers
    • Eph. 1:4 To be holy and blameless before Him

Summary: The Lord's temporal Purpose for us is to be conformed to the image of His Son

There's an analogy of our calling in the election of Israel.

  • God called His people out of Egypt and entered into a covenant with them at Horeb.
  • He made them His people, and henceforth they were to be holy just as He is holy.
  • But the Lord didn't merely want to save them out of Egypt.
  • His ultimate purpose was to bring them into the promised land.
    • Everything He did with them on the way (temporal) was so that they may share in His holiness.
      • It was so that they may reflect His glory.

Similarly, God called the church out of the world and entered a covenant with her at Golgotha.

  • He made us His people, and we are to be holy as He is holy
    • In times of plenty and in times of poverty.
  • We are called to be like Christ
    • in times of calm and in times of calamity.

This is our mission.
It's you're calling to reflect the image of the Son.

  • But we are not merely called out of the world.
    • We are called to inherit the promised kingdom.
      That's your destiny.

And so, Paul's first petition reflects the conviction that believers are called to inherit the kingdom, and they must, therefore, be like Christ on their way to the inheritance

His second petition is
11b: Every desire for goodness and work of faith be fulfilled with power

  • You'll notice two parallel phrases here: Desire for goodness/Work of faith

Desire for goodness:
"Goodness involves deliberate deeds that are helpful to others." (Jerry Bridges)
• Acts 10:38
• Eph. 2:10
So, Paul has in mind those things that are most beneficial for other people
To know what kind of things = Jesus went about preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the weak, encouraging the downcast, counseling. He was always providing in the needs of people

Work of faith:
What Paul means with this second phrase is work that is produced by faith
• Gal. 5:6 Faith working through/expressing itself through love
• James 2:18-26 Faith that doesn't produce works = dead

So, his second petition is that every desire for goodness & work produced by faith be brought to fruition – Notice that both these phrases have to do with observable works

Therefore, when Paul prays for believers who are in fiery trials, his mind is thinking of God's purposes for them and the fruit by which they will glorify Him.

  •  He prays for their Christlike behaviour amid their suffering
    • This is not to say that we don't pray for healing & deliverance
      • But we can be so preoccupied with this that we miss God's greater purpose with suffering
        • John 17:15

Purpose of his prayer
V12: So that – By which Paul says, "here's the purpose/the objective for which they must be made worthy of their calling & their desire for goodness & work of faith must be fulfilled.
Here's the result he desires and why he prays for the things just mentioned.
Read verse

The ultimate purpose is that God may be glorified
• Phil. 1:20
• 1 Cor. 10:31
• Eph. 1:5-6, 11-12

How is He glorified in us?

  • He is glorified in us when we behave like He does
    • When we reflect His faith, His love, His joy, His goodness, His kindness, His worship, His devotion
      • When we express His image in our daily walk

How are we glorified in Him?

  • John 12:26 Jesus promises that those who serve Him will be honored by the Father
  • Ps. 91:14-16
  • Luke 12:37

So, Paul prays that they may be conformed to the image of Christ amid their hardships so that God may be glorified.
This is the mission of our lives and our prayers should reflect this

Power of his prayer
V11: They must be worthy of their calling, and every desire for goodness & work of faith must be fulfilled with power
The question is, who's power?

  • You and I simply do not have the power to behave like Christ.
    • We do not have the power to love our enemies like He does.
    • We don't have the power to love the Father like He does.

Notice the subject of Paul's petition
• V11, "we pray that our God will … make you worthy & fulfill
• V12, "according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul knows that believers are like sailboats on a windless sea.
• They cannot do the things required of them by themselves.

But He also knows that God has made rich promises to cause them to fulfil all of His commands

  • Eze. 36:27 is a pivotal clause in the covenantal agreement God entered through the death of the Lord Jesus – Heb. 9:15-18
    • We know that God poured out His promise (Acts 2), and through the Holy Spirit, we are born again, sealed for the day of redemption and empowered for obedience!
  • Eph. 5:18 Be filled = wind in the sails of a boat
    • Be empowered by

How do we practically do this?
• Gal. 2:20
• Heb. 11:29-34

Now, Paul knows this about the believers, and he acts faith in the promises of God on their behalf. He prays according to the purposes of God so that the Power of God may become evident in them amidst their suffering

Don’t neglect to pray for other believers
God’s is glorified when we bear much fruit
And the fruit of Christlikeness is worked in us in answer to our prayers for one another
So, while we want to pray for deliverance and healing and other temporal issues
We want to have God’s greater interests at heart in our prayers for believers who suffer

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