What Should We Pray For? ~by Robin Shaw

2 Thessalonians 3:1

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you…

I asked a stupid question today. Not intentionally…my question just came out wrong and sounded really stupid. I was at Bible Study and we were reading Hebrews 11:6 which reads “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” I struggle with this statement, so I raised my hand and asked if by “reward” Paul meant a reward like a Maserati or a reward like eternal life? I know, I know. Ridiculous, right?  

I felt horrible, of course, because I really didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I knew that Paul didn’t mean a Maserati – they didn’t even have those back then. But there is this gray area between needs and wants which is very muddy. On top of that, we hear so many messages telling us to believe God for more, sometimes it’s hard to know for sure if by accepting our lot in life we’re being content or being complacent. At times I feel myself ignoring wants and needs and not thinking to ask for them because I’m not sure if what I want is even important (especially given the fact that God knows best). Although I talk a good “faith game,” I secretly sometimes feel that God doesn’t care about the trivial aspects of my life (although I know that He is a compassionate high priest who cares). I also know that He’s sovereign and that He knows our hearts and motivations before we ask and that as a “good, good father” He will sometimes say no because what we ask for will hurt us. I know all of that in my head, yet I struggle and privately have had others confide that they struggle with this too. I mean, I would use that Maserati to drive people to church, of course. Thank God, the better half of the “Battering Ram of Racial Reconciliation” had asked me to write this Ripple. My reading as I prepared to write led me to 2 Thessalonians 3:1, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you…” and I felt like even more of a crunchberry. 

Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse illuminates it well. “This was the great thing that Paul was most solicitous about,” he writes, “He was more solicitous that God’s name might be sanctified, his kingdom advanced, and his will done, than he was about his own daily bread.” Boom, roasted! In case you haven’t used it in a while, solicitous means “meticulously careful” or “full of desire.” Wow. Because God’s thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, and His ways are so much higher than our ways, it’s hard to grasp how He could love our sinful, selfish selves and even be so kind as to answer our prayers when His only true goal and purpose is salvation for all mankind. When we hold that lens up to our every desire, most…maybe almost all…will fail to measure up. Paul became the great writer, teacher, and theologian that he was because he understood that, prayed for it, and was full of desire for it. As we grow and become more like Christ through the process of sanctification, His kingdom should always be what is first and foremost in our minds and hearts and the object of our prayers and desires. If we grasp that, we will become ever more content with whatever rewards He provides and not embarrass ourselves in Bible Study. 

In Christ,

H.R. Shaw

Writer & Editor

Certified Joyologist

Pallikan/Shaw 2020 Campaign Chair

Robin is the most excited one in this picture.

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