Praying With Paul – #5

Praying With Paul – #5

A message by Pastor Bill Mann on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at King’s Grace Fellowship.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

In this teaching I want to start on the prayers that Paul prayed. As we do, we must keep in mind his mindset as outlined in the first few teachings of this series. (Here’s a brief synopsis of Paul’s mindset:)

  1. He was thankful for signs of grace (growth)
    1. Paul gives thanks for faith that is growing.
    2. Paul gives thanks for love that is increasing.
    3. Paul gives thanks that they are persevering under trial.
  2. Assurance of God’s Vindication
    1. For believers, there will be vindication
    2. For other’s there will be retribution

I might point out that Paul was overjoyed because of the tangible growth he saw in the believers, but at the same time, he also was deeply saddened for those who would reject Christ. There is no joy for any believer in the final disposition of those without Christ.

So let’s read this passage and then I’ll make some comments.

2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 (NKJV)

11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 (NLT)

11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now before we get to these requests, let me comment about deepening your Bible study. As we read our passage in 2 translations, there was a considerable difference. It’s not that one is wrong and the other is right, it that one enhances or expands the notion(s) presented and helps clarify the proposition.

Note that the NLT uses the wording “enable you” and“give you the power”. When I read that it makes me think that God will “make”me do something “even” if I don’t want to do it. No effort on my part is needed, it’s all up to God. So, if God wants it so much, he has to “force”me into it. My hang up is, there is no effort on my part, which I believe is an error. The NKJV and others use wording that gives the sense that God would count one worthy, by their growth in “sanctifying”grace, willingly striving to honor God in view of all that He has done for them. This I believe what Paul was commending the Thessalonians in. They have had good success in “being” Christians.

Over the years I’ve notice a big disconnect between “saving”grace and “sanctifying” grace. Once conviction of sin sets in and we realize we cannot undue the ravages sin, we are totally and hopelessly lost and that without remedy outside of God’s “saving” grace. After we apply God’s “saving” grace through repentance we are saved.

So far so good. From this point on we are on this journey of learning to walk “worthy” of this calling out of sin and darkness. This is why Paul prays for believers and why we should. Let now the “sanctifying”grace of God be our goal as he helps us navigated this sin filled world. We will ALWAYS be like fish swimming upstream, against the cultural current. So, a constant vigil of “renewing” our minds is a must. And of course, we do that through learning, embracing and doing all that Jesus taught and lived.

If one digs a bit into a passage such as this by reading a few different translations, they are able to see nuances of the passage that may be helpful in application. Now onto Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians.

Paul’s Prayer Requests

A couple of things come to my mind as we begin this study: 1) what is the calling they have received? 2) what does worthy mean?

          1. That God would help them live a life worthy of the calling they have received.

There is a parallel verse in Ephesians that states this as well.

Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV)

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

This was an appeal to the Ephesians (and to us)whereas the 2 Thessalonians passage was an appeal to God to help his readers live up to the standard for the glory of God.

The idea of walking worthy or living worthy of “the call” does not mean that we can“earn”our salvation. Rather it means that in consideration of the call or in considering all that Christ has done for us, and having accepted His call, we must walk worthy of it. Live a real Christian life. (self-sacrifice, genuine love of believers and non-believers, dying daily to the cross, preferring others over one’s self, fellowship, faithfulness, etc.)

Here Paul is praying that the Thessalonians would indeed bring honor to Christ’s name buy how they lived, so that they would bring honor to His name. A common theme in the OT was that the nations would know that there was a God in Israel. This is still the goal, that people would know that there is a God in heaven. Those who have received this call, His people, have much to do with this by how they live and love!

An OT passage in Jeremiah states the sad realization that each person has a choice in this:

Jeremiah 13:11 (NLT)

11 As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the Lord. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.

We truly have a choice on what type of witness we will be for Christ . . .  a good one . . . or a bad one.

Secondly, we see Paul praying for the Thessalonians that God would supply them the power necessary to accomplish all their faith prompts them to do.

          2. That God would supply them the power necessary to accomplish all their faith prompts them to do.

An excerpt from a Greek Lexicon expresses this well.

.. .  ‘I ask you then … live worthy of the responsibility which God has urgently invited you to accept’ or ‘… live worthy of the task which God has given you to do.’[1]

D.A. Carson in his book Praying With Paul, had this to say:

The idea is frankly astonishing, and very important. What Paul presupposes is that God’s people have been so transformed through their conversion to Jesus Christ and his gospel that they now develop new desires, desires for goodness and deeds prompted by faith, decidedly Christian plans, Christian goals.[2]

We are different now! And because we have been changed by the saving grace of God, we are now on a journey of sanctifying grace, our desires are for Him and the things of His kingdom. No wonder Paul is praying this for them. He wants their influence to go far and wide!

And why should we not pray this for every believer we know. Our spouses, our families, our co-workers and school mates. Oh, that each believer would rise to the challenge of all the things that God has placed in their hearts. With God, nothing is impossible.


  1. I love these kinds of prayers. It’s as simple as this:

Father God, I lift up Gordon before You. He is steadfast in his confession of faith, faithful in prayer and a lover of people. May You see him and all that he is doing in your name and help him to continue with intentionality. Help him to dream big dreams for the kingdom and for people’s lives, then give him the ability and the team to accomplish all that is in his heart for You and the Your Kingdom. Glorify Your name through Gordon as I know he will be glorifying You because of Your grace.

This kind of prayer can be prayed for any believe and I’m sure God will answer it. He is more than willing and desirous to “help” you live a life that is worthy of your calling out of darkness and to “help you accomplish all that is in your heart for the king.

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 423.

[2] D. A. Carson, Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 37.