Praying For People Facing Hard Times Rick Ezell September 1, 2006 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. Paul’s prayer is worth pondering because every week we’re asked to pray for people facing difficulty. Consider the following: 1. Pray constantly (v. 10). Paul 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). Paul 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). These 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. Often, 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). Paul 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). The 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). The 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 hardship. 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. You 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. ___________________Sermon brief provided by: Rick Ezell, a pastor and author in Naperville, IL Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.