“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
The third chapter of 2 Thessalonians contains Paul’s final thoughts, encouragement and prayers. We note that he begins by requesting prayer for himself and the ministry team as they endeavour to preach the word of God effectually wherever they are sent. This verse reveals the heart of a true and faithful ambassador of Christ.
Pray for us
Paul had asked the Thessalonian believers to pray for him before. “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25). Wherever he went the Jews and the pagans roused up a mob, had him beaten or put in prison, so we can clearly see why he asks for prayer (e.g. Acts 18:5-17). Someone who requests prayer is admitting that, humanly speaking, they are not able to face on the oncoming problem and difficulties without the grace of God and the companionship of fellow believers. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
This phrase speaks of the swiftness of God’s word and that it must not be hindered by anyone or anything. We get the sense of what Paul is the believers to pray for in the following verses: “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20) … “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:3-4).
Just as in Paul’s day, false religion and ungodly laws are hindering the preaching of the true Gospel of Christ today; therefore much prayer is needed too. What are we praying to happen in our nation in this respect? Basically it is the same thing that took place at the foundation of the church. “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith … But the word of God grew and multiplied … So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 6:7, 12:24, 19:20). Our prayer is that once again God would be honoured by bold preaching of His eternal word. “He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly” (Psalm 147:15). We all, not just preachers and teachers, will be held accountable for not declaring the truth. “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:16).
Notice what the text says. Not only should God be glorified, but His word ought to be also. If we do not honour God’s word, then we cannot honour Him. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2). How are we to glorify God’s word? Once again, in exactly the same way as the early church did. “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down … And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region” (Acts 13:14, 48-49). We honour God and His word through our willingness to hear and learn, and our boldness to spread the Gospel throughout our land and the world. Only then will our endeavours produce much fruit.
Paul boldly taught the Scriptures wherever he went. Notice that he does not pray for prosperity or worldwide fame, but that he might be strengthened to continue in the task set before him. It is our responsibility to do the same and to pray for those who are obediently engaged in the work. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword” (Hebrews 4:12) … “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).