Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, (II Thessalonians 3:1 NKJV)
Have you ever wondered how you should pray for missionaries or for people who are preaching the Word on the front lines where it is more difficult? Well, today I’m going to give you the answer. And please—while you’re praying for people on the front lines, be sure to remember to pray for me too!
The apostle Paul did what I call “front-line ministry work.” As noted earlier, Paul’s ministry took him places where the Church was nonexistent. He dealt with hostile governments; he faced opposition from false religions; he pushed the evil forces of the demonic realm out of the way; he brought converts from the bleakness of paganism and turned them into living, breathing members of the Body of Christ. This task is never for the light-hearted, but only for the extremely committed.
-Then Paul makes his request: “Finally, brethren, pray for us….” The Greek word... As it is used in this verse, this word means to pray continually or to pray without stopping.
-Paul is sincerely asking for committed prayer partners who will pray nonstop for his team, his ministry, and for himself. When he says, “Pray for us,” the word “for” is the Greek word peri, which means around or about. Paul is specifically requesting prayer for those things that are around or about them—hence, the things that concern them and their ministry.
Next, Paul gets more specific about how to pray. He says, “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course….” The Greek could be better translated, “Pray for us, that the Lord’s word may have free course….”
In all his years of ministry, Paul was always mindful that the message he carried was given to him by the Lord. Furthermore, Paul knew that his responsibility was to preach that message. Therefore, he asked the Thessalonians to join him in praying that the Lord’s message might have “free course.” These words “free course” come from the Greek word trecho, which means to run.
Before we go any further, let’s stop and look deeper into the meaning of the word trecho.
1. This word often referred to runners who ran a foot race in a huge stadium before adoring crowds of fans. In order for the runner to run successfully and finish triumphantly, every ounce of his strength and his complete attention was required. There is no doubt that Paul had this picture in his mind as he wrote this verse, for he was in a race to preach the Gospel to as many souls as possible before he came to the end of his life. He was in a spiritual race, a real competition. Racing urgently and with all his might against the enemy who wants to eternally destroy and damn souls, Paul put forth his best efforts to save as many souls as possible.
2. However, there is another powerful image that applies to this word. This word was also used to describe the swift-running messengers who dashed between enemy lines to carry vital messages of instruction to those who waited on the other side of the battle.
These especially brave and courageous messengers were essential if battles were to be won.
You can clearly see why Paul would have chosen to use this illustration, for he was indeed a God-sent messenger running back and forth through enemy territory, delivering the message of the Cross, as well as instructions to the churches that looked to him for apostolic leadership. Paul was God’s special, swift-running messenger!
Finally, Paul makes one last prayer request. He asks for prayer that the word of May be glorified..
These powerful words used by Paul in Second Thessalonians 3:1 convey the following ideas:
“Finally, brothers, pray for us and for those things that concern us. Pray that the word of the Lord will spread quickly and without resistance. Pray that we will be able to keep up the pace that is required for us to get this message out!
“To fulfill this task, we have to be like runners whose eyes are fixed on the goal before us! We must be like brave, bold, daring, and courageous messengers, whose job is to carry vital information across enemy lines. We have to move promptly and swiftly to get the message of the Gospel to the other side where people are desperately waiting.
So now you have an idea of how to pray for missionaries, preachers, or people who are ministering the Word and planting churches in new, unreached regions—the difficult front lines where the Word has never or rarely been preached.
Here is a wrap-up of Paul’s prayer request for you to use as you pray for people you know who are working in difficult parts of the world: Pray for the missionaries and preachers themselves. Pray for the things that concern them, i.e., their families, their finances, their health, etc. Pray for the Lord’s message to spread without hindrance from hostile forces. Pray for the missionaries and preachers to win the race for souls. Pray for them to be protected as they dash through enemy territory. Pray constantly, around the clock, for those who are laboring on the front lines!
Now that you know how the apostle Paul wanted people to pray for him, you can use this as a guide to pray for missionaries and preachers in other parts of the world. Why don’t you take a few minutes to start praying for them today?