1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

In seminary a professor would always say, “Be kind to the people you minister to, they all are facing hard times.”

The church at Thessalonica was facing hard times – persecution,
testing of their faith, and spiritual opposition. The situation was
so grim that Paul feared that they would give up on their faith.

prayer is worth pondering because every week we’re asked to pray for
people facing difficulty. Consider the following:

1. Pray constantly (v. 10).

prayed “night and day” for the believers in Thessalonica. When is the
last time you stayed awake all night to pray for someone? Effective
prayer engages the heart and mind at all hours of the day and night.

2. Pray earnestly (v. 10).

describes the intensity of his prayer as “most earnestly.” It is like
someone describing something as “more better.” While the phrase is
incorrect grammatically, it communicates the idea of going above and
beyond all normal measures.

Prayer must be
earnest to be effective. Weak, shallow, half-hearted prayers produce
weak, shallow, half-hearted results. Fervent or earnest prayers are
“boiling” in their intensity, getting God’s attention because they
bubble up from a heart wholly focused on the Lord and the one being
prayed for.

3. Pray practically (v. 10).

people were on Paul’s heart and mind. He loved them. He wanted to see
them again. It seems such an insignificant request. But, Paul’s
example reminds us that we are to pray about the everyday affairs of
those who are going through difficult times.

when people are facing difficulties they don’t eat properly or get
sufficient sleep or overlook time spent with loved ones. Paul
understood that all of life is to be lived under God’s watchful eye.
Nothing is too small to bring to his attention.

4. Pray specifically (v. 10).

wanted to “supply” or complete or make new what was lacking in their
faith. The word supply, often translated restore, was used for
mending torn nets so they would be useful for the next day’s fishing
expedition and for setting broken bones so that healing would enable
the person to live healthily.

Supplying or
equipping is what an equipment manager does before the start of a
football game. He makes sure the players have their helmets and pads
because if they go into the game without a helmet and proper padding,
they will be injured.

In praying for those who
are facing hard times, request that they are spiritually prepared for
the battle. Difficulties test our faith. Satan seeks a crack in our
spiritual armor to inflict damage on our physical life and our
character. Pray that hurting people are spiritually protected.

5. Pray for compassion (v. 12).

goal of the Christian life is love: love God and love people. Paul
was praying that God would make their love for one another overflow
so that it spills outside the banks and washes the hearts of anyone
and everyone that comes in contact with them. It’s not enough to be
kind and polite. Our love must constantly be growing, ever extending
outwards toward others.

Usually, when we are
faced with difficulties and hard times our focus turns inward, doesn’t
it? We become self-absorbed and self-centered. It is all about our
problems, our loss, our worries, our struggles. We hardly have time
for others. Paul was praying that that wouldn’t be the case for the
Thessalonians. He was praying that their love for one another would
remain strong even in hard times.

6. Pray for their strength (v. 13).

word strengthen means to buttress something, like the famous “flying
buttresses” of cathedrals in Europe. Our hearts must have a strong
foundation, one that is free of cracks, flaws, and weak areas, if we
are going to stand strong in the time of trial. Nothing reveals the
true condition of the heart like difficulty, setbacks, opposition and

So when you pray for people facing
hard times ask God to make them strong in their weak places so that
they will be strong and endure the difficulties, having a heart that
is pure, set apart, and different than the people in the world.

are where you are today because somebody prayed for you. Now, it’s
your turn to pray for those people who are facing hard times.

brief provided by: Rick Ezell, a pastor and author in
Naperville, IL

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