We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;1 Thessalonians 1:2(NASB)
It was in the city of Berea and in the company of Silas and Timothy, that Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians. He had founded the church at Thessalonica during his second missionary journey and was greatly encouraged by their positive response to the good news of the gospel of grace.
He began his letter with a long, personal paragraph giving thanks for their witness and work. He told them of the joy he felt when he thought of them, recalling the three spiritual virtues that were blossoming in their Church congregation... for which he greatly rejoiced.
Firstly, their firm faith in the gospel brought Paul much encouragement, for it brings eternal life to all who believe on Christ. Secondly, he mentioned the love this little group of believers had for the Lord Jesus, as they 'laboured in love' and served Him willingly because of their dear devotion to Him and not simply out of duty. The third thing that rejoiced his heart was their enduring hope in Jesus' soon return, and much of this letter touches on the very subject of Christ coming for his people.
Three of the most important Christian virtues are expressed in these three spiritual fruit - faith, hope, and love... and together they embody the essence of godly living and illustrate the virtuous way that every believer should seek to live in their Christian life-journey.
Paul's own great love for these brethren is also seen in this opening section. The thanksgiving he expressed for their developing faith was clearly designed to encourage them to maintain their faith in the Lord and press on for the upward call we have in Christ Jesus, and so he began this personalised section by telling them, "We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers."
How wonderful for this group of young converts to know that the apostle Paul lifted them up to the Lord in prayer so consistently. Despite his ever expanding 'prayer list', the apostle Paul found the time and considered it sufficiently important, to make mention of this group of Christians in his prayers.
Paul was not praying for these saints every minute of the day, but his prayer for them was earnest and consistent. Like the Lord Jesus, Paul seems to have developed the desire to live his life in an attitude of prayer and throughout his writings we find him encouraging the Body of Christ to prayer without ceasing, to pray always, and in every situation to pray with a thankful heart and having done all... to keep on praying knowing that our sufficient strength comes from God alone.
Paul loved the brethren at Thessalonica, and did not seem to single anyone out for particular commendation or for any necessary correction, but gave thanks for the whole congregation and made mention of all the saints in his intercessions.
Perhaps the prayer that Paul often prayed for these and other believers throughout the middle east could be summed up in the final few verses of this lovely letter, "now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
Heavenly Father, how grateful we are to have the inspired Scriptures as a mirror through which we are enabled to see the things we need to do to honour Your name. I pray that I may remain firm in the faith, grow in love, and rejoice in the blessed hope that we have in Christ. Thank You for the privilege of prayer and for the wonderful witness we have from Paul's powerful praying. I pray that my intercessions and prayers may be guided by You as I look for that glorious day when Christ comes for His Church... and may we all be sanctified entirely, spirit, soul, and body, and be made complete and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.
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