Paul is talking to the church in Thessalonica in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3. He asks for prayer in three areas for himself and his fellow missionary partners in verses 1 and 2.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
God’s Word Would Have Free Course
Paul asked the people to pray that the Bible would have “free course” as the missionaries go out to preach. This phrase carries with it the idea that God’s Word would run freely and swiftly in the places it is preached. That the Bible would not be hindered in its mission.
Pray for missionaries (and anyone preaching the Gospel) that the Bible will accomplish its task. Pray that as it is preached it will freely penetrate the hearts of men.
God’s Word can be hindered because of worldly influences over the lives of the hearers. Culture, superstitions and human nature are factors in keeping the Bible from being accepted. Religion can play a role in hindering God’s Word too. When people have been taught half-truths concerning the Bible, it can cause confusion in the mind of the listeners. They may be convinced that they are just fine before the Lord because of the good deeds they have accomplished. The truth is that we are wicked sinners who are in need of a Savior.
The Bible Would be Glorified
The people in Thessalonica should pray that God’s Word would be glorified—honored or lifted up. The idea is that the Bible should have value placed on it. The Bible is often de-valued, not by the hearers, but by those who are preaching it. When a missionary does not place proper value on the importance of the Bible, then those who are listening to God’s Word being preached won’t value it either.
It is important for missionaries to maintain a proper testimony. No one expects the missionary to be perfect. He is a redeemed sinner like anyone else in the church. However, people do look to pastors and missionaries as examples of how to live. When a leader does not value God’s Word enough to obey it and preach it with authority, then it is hard for the followers to do the same.
God Would Protect Them From Wicked Men
Finally Paul asked that the church pray that they would be protected from wicked and unreasonable men. Our warfare on this earth is not with flesh and blood; however, spiritual warfare is often manifested through people.
Pray that missionaries would be spared from people trying to hinder the work. Missionaries face daily trails just like anyone else in the churches back home. However, every struggle seems to be magnified when working in another country. Roadblocks in ministry can be seen as personal attacks on the missionary. Of course this is often a matter of perception. But it is easy for a missionary to get discouraged and the work of God to halt its forward progress.
As a missionary in Mexico I was involved in an accident which resulted in me spending several hours in jail. I had no opportunity to personally argue my side of the story. In Mexico the law is that you are guilty until proven innocent. I spent 7 hours waiting for my innocence to be proven by the testimony of others and by the evidence available. Fortunately I was released with no further problems. But that could have gone another way. I could have been wrongfully charged for something that was truly a freak accident. I believe God spared me from that because of the prayers of supporters. God saved me from the hand of people who had no interest in my success as a missionary.
Do you pray for missionaries? Paul asked that the church in Thessalonica pray for him and the other missionaries with him in these three specific areas. Will you pray for the missionaries you know that God’s Word would accomplish its task, that it would be glorified and that the missionaries would be spared from wicked and unreasonable men?