Prayers of Paul--1 Thessalonians 3:13 & 5:23-24
What kind of prayer will God always be willing to answer?
Have you ever thought of that?
Many people pray and ask for/about people or other things. Sometimes our prayers are competitive in nature.
Sometimes we ask with wrong motives, maybe God knows better than we do about what we need, not what we want. Sometimes God answering "yes" to your prayer may be bad for someone else.
But can we pray about something that God would not refuse?
I think these two verses are examples of things He will never be unwilling to fulfill.
1 Thess. 3:13--“May He strengthen your heart so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.”
Personalize these and ask them for yourself and for others:
“God, strengthen my heart so I will be blameless and holy in Your presence.”
1 Thess. 5:23-24—“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Personalized: “My God of peace, sanctify me through and through. Keep my whole spirit, soul and body blameless both now and at Your coming.”
Praying for sanctification and blamelessness are not easy things to pray about considering all the
temptations that we are dealing with.
I asked the college students in our class what kinds of issues they or their classmates are facing
- · Alcohol
- · Drugs
- · Profanity
- · Sex
- · Pornography
- · Anger/Revenge
- · Smoking
- · Laziness/Hard Work
- · Partying
This is by no means an exhaustive list and those temptations do not stop with college students. However, these temptations can affect our prayer and our usefulness to God. They can interfere with and put a barrier up between us and God to where we don’t want to talk to Him anymore.
Think of it in these terms, growing up, when I did something I knew I shouldn’t do, the last people I wanted to talk to or run in to was my parents. Why? Because there was the chance I could slip up and give myself away or worse, they already knew about whatever it was I had done. If they didn’t know, I would be in a state of fear and/or guilt—so it was best to just avoid them if possible and keep going as if nothing was wrong. It created a barrier between us that my behavior put up.
We treat God the same way. When we are living things like those listed above, the last person we really want to get close to is God. Why? Because we suspect He already knows—and we know on some level that it will have to be dealt with before true closeness or fellowship is restored—before our prayer is truly “heard”.
To be “heard” means to be given an audience. God is fully aware of everything, but He does not “hear” or give an audience to everything or everyone—not while sin needs to be dealt with.
In order to be in the presence of God, we must be blameless.
Blameless is the same concept that was said of Abraham back in Genesis—“walk before me and be blameless”. It does not mean perfection that can be attained through effort but a status that exists when one’s sins have been atoned for or covered. A life characterized by the influence of atonement creates a quality of character and integrity that will not give cause or evidence to accusation. It is a life of faith—“Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
In the strength of our own heart, we cannot be blameless. We need God to act upon our heart, to give us strength in order to be blameless.
When was the last time you asked God to strengthen your heart so you can be blameless? If you’re like me, it’s either been a while or never.
Paul expresses a similar thing in 5:23—“may God Himself… sanctify you through and through.”
When was the last time you asked God to sanctify you?
To sanctify means to make holy or set apart for a holy purpose. Paul is asking for you and I to be made holy so we can be used for holy purposes.
Have you asked God to use you for a holy purpose lately? You might be missing out on some great opportunities.
You may think you are nothing special, that God could never use someone as ordinary as you, but In the ritual sacrifice of the Old Testament—normal items can be made from the same lump of clay (for example) as items to be used to worship God—something to use at home, and something to be used in the temple can have the same source. See Romans 9:21 & 2 Timothy 2:20-21
What separates them is whether something has been sanctified, set apart to the service of God—this usually required a sprinkling of the blood of a sacrifice.
By having the Blood of Christ placed over you, covering your sin, our sin is atoned for, God’s just wrath appeased, the righteousness of Christ (not our own righteousness) is credited to us just as righteousness was credited to Abraham.
In doing all this for us, we are also set apart or sanctified or made holy for a greater, noble and holy purpose.
And not just part of us, but all of us. We are to be sanctified completely, through and through.
Too often, we try to hold back part of our life for ourselves. We say, “God, you can have this part of my life, but this is mine and I’ll do with it what I want.”
Paul points out that we really can hold nothing back. He sets apart, He sanctifies all of you—“spirit, soul and body.”
You are a whole person and each part either feeds and nourishes the other, or tears down and diminishes the effectiveness of the other.
For example, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. When you or I sin sexually in our physical body our spiritual life is greatly impacted and diminished. That’s why there is such a struggle for sexual purity in the life of believers and our culture.
Sexual sin, outside of God’s design of marriage between a man and a woman is both a symptom of and a cause of spiritual decline. And in most cases, the sin does not start with a physical sin. It starts in the soul or mind. That’s why Jesus can say that men who look at a woman with lust in his heart has already committed adultery—and this has affected the man’s spiritual walk.
That’s why we need God’s strength to work on our heart. He is the active agent of our purity and blamelessness. He acts upon us, He strengthens us, He makes us holy: spirit, soul and body.
When we ask Him to sanctify us—there’s nothing we can hold back—God wants to purify and set apart all of us—our whole being for His great purpose.
When was the last time you wanted God to have all of you? When was the last time you asked Him to keep you blameless, to sanctify you, to strengthen your heart?
Do you really think God would ever say “No” to this kind of prayer?
Maybe we should be praying like this more often. Our homes, our churches, our nation wouldn’t be the same because… “He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”—1 Thessalonians 5:24