We began with Dr. Wayne Mack's Reaching the Ear of God, which is his elaborate study and exposition of the model prayer (aka Lord's Prayer) in Matthew 6 and this past fall read T.M. Moore's God's Prayer Program, and learned how to use the psalter in prayer. Both were very helpful, and I have much to continue learning and practicing in my prayer discipline.
This year we've begun D. A. Carson's book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation. If you're not familiar with Carson...wow... um... go here . Or go here and search for "carson". OR the motherload looks to be right here. You gotta hear him before you read him. He has two very approachable books - For the Love of God (Vols. 1 & 2). They're devotional books actually, that are structured around McCheyne's Bible reading program. Anyway...enough about Carson, on to Paul.
We read chapter 2 this week where Carson begins a look at Paul's prayer in 2 Thessalonians 1:2-12.
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Emphasis added)In this chapter, before getting into the prayer itself (vs. 11) Carson helps us consider the foundation and mindset Paul has as he prays. It's found in vss. 3-10 and it involves two primary subjects:
1. Gratitude to God for signs of His grace in the lives of believers
a. For a growing faith
b. For an increasing love
c. For a perseverance under trial
2. Confidence in God's Vindication
a. Believers will receive vindication
b. Unbelievers will receive retribution
I just want to comment on a practical application for point 1a above - gratitude to God for the growing faith of believers.
Our group of men was asked to think of someone we knew in who's life we have seen evidence of God's grace as they've grown in their faith. I thought of several almost immediately. We prayed for these people, doing as Paul did - "giv[ing] thanks to God... because [their] faith is growing abundantly" (vs. 3). It was a sweet time of prayer.
I was also motivated to do something else. I got a couple of blank note cards & wrote notes of encouragement to a couple of people who fit this description. I told them that I praised God for them and was encouraged by the evidence in their lives of God's grace.
Now, to the point of this post:
~Who do you know that is displaying evidences of God's grace in their growing faith?
~Have you thanked God for that grace in their lives? Why not do it now?
~Also, why not write them a note praising God for the growth in godliness that you see in their lives? Who knows, they might just need such encouragement right now.
~How about praising God right here for that person? Paul made his boast to God before the churches, so why not make your boast before fellow bloggers? Go on, just click on the comments link and give God praise.
Looking forward to praising God with you.