TEXT: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil 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 ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
— PRAYER —
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 356 messages in this series.
This is message #357 titled, 3 Prayers for a Persecuted Church, Part 1.
According to statistics compiled by Open Doors USA, in the year from November 2017 to November 2018:
– 245 million Christians around the world (that is, 1 in 9 believers) experienced high levels of persecution for their choice to follow Christ.
– The number of Christians experiencing high level persecution rose by 14% over the previous year.
– Over 4,100 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons in the top 50 countries on the World Persecution Watch List
– Over 2,600 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned in those top 50 countries
– Over 1,200 churches or Christian buildings were attacked
Unfortunately, while Christianity in Western Europe seems to be dying out and while Christians in the U.S. argue amongst themselves and bicker over access to political influence, hundreds of Christians face serious, bloody, deadly persecution on a daily basis around the world.
Today, we turn to Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica. Like the 245 million Christians facing persecution in the world today, this little body of believers was facing persecution in their town. Dr. Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary: “The Christians in Thessalonica were grateful to God for Paul’s first letter, but it did not immediately solve all their problems. In fact, the persecution grew worse and some believers thought they were living in the time of the Tribulation. Then a letter arrived claiming to be from Paul, stating that the Day of the Lord was actually present. Needless to say, the assembly was confused and frightened by this prospect. Some of the believers concluded that since the Lord’s coming was so near, they ought to quit their jobs and spend their time waiting for Him. This meant that the other members were under an extra burden to care for them. Satan was working overtime; as the lion, he was seeking to devour, and as the serpent, he was seeking to deceive. It was in response to these needs that Paul wrote his second letter. He began with their most pressing need, the persecution they were experiencing because of their faith. In this first chapter, Paul shared three encouragements with his suffering friends.”
From the ending of the first chapter of this epistle, we can see three ways in which we ought to pray for the persecuted church. Paul starts in verse 11 with the word, “wherefore”; the NIV uses the phrase, “with this in mind.” This term indicates that Paul is looking back on what he has written in the first ten verses. In these verses, we see again Paul’s enthusiasm and care for the church at Thessalonica.
First, he praises God because their “faith is growing more and more,” and because ‘the love they have for each other is increasing.’ This church did not allow the persecution that they were facing to cause them to turn on each other or to abandon the faith. As was so often the case when the early church faced tough times, they abounded more and more in faith and in love for each other. I wonder if we can say the same today? Paul was so proud of these saints that he ‘boasted about their perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials they were enduring.’
Paul also encouraged these believers by reminding them that God was on their side and that those who persecuted them would be justly punished. The apostle says, God ‘will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled.’ What a great reminder this is to saints today who are facing persecution. However, such deliverance may not occur in the present. Ultimately, this justice will be meted out at the end of the age when Jesus returns ‘from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.’ On that day, the persecutors of the church ‘will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.’
Every believer ought to have a heart for those who are being persecuted. We ought to pray that, through the refining fire which the Lord allows in the lives of His saints, that they would grow in love and faith. And, as we dive into this passage to learn how we can effectively pray for the persecuted church, we ought to keep in mind that, one day, persecution will be a thing of the past, and that, ultimately, the enemies of the Cross will not prevail against the saints of the Lord.
Harriet Auber wrote:
Arrayed against our church and faith,
The powers of darkness rage,
And the tyrants of the earth
Unholy warfare wage.
They say, O God, Thou wilt not hear,
Thou, Lord, will not regard;
But each dark crime is known to Thee,
And meets its just reward.
The Father of the fatherless,
The helper of the weak,
Thy hand shall every wrong redress,
Thy voice shall comfort speak.
And soon shall dawn that blessed day,
When sin and woe shall cease,
And earth, beneath Messiah’s sway,
Enjoy perpetual peace.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.