Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12—NKJV)

Sometimes you just do not know what to pray for other believers. It may be because you have been praying the same request for a long time and God has not deemed it necessary to answer just yet. Perhaps you may think others are at a different spiritual place than you. Maybe the need that you have been praying for just seems off the mark with the spiritual need that you perceive. How should a believer pray for his brother in the Lord?

Of the many great prayer lists found in the New Testament, this particular one proceeds on high ground. The Thessalonian church is one of the bright spots in the early church age. The first epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians is one full of victory and his role is that of reinforcing the saints in their doctrinal integrity and corporate walk as a local body of Christ. This practical faithfulness to the Lord naturally draws the enemies of the cross out into the open and their opposition intensifies against the saints and the Gospel. 2 Thessalonians is written to strengthen the saints’ resolve, increase their doctrinal precision, and reinforce godliness in practical living. With this historical context in mind, we can now turn to the prayer of Paul and draw some insights.

This prayer is one of four prayers of Paul for the Thessalonians found in the second epistle. (Our obligation to pray for others is not simply fulfilled when our “grocery list” has been recited before God.) The others are found in 2:16, 17; 3:1–5; and 3:16. Each one is, in itself, a powerhouse of ideas for prayer for the saints around us. Sustaining grace is the overarching need, success in endeavors for Christ is the overarching goal, and submission to the Lord is the overarching desire.

Interestingly, Paul did not keep the musings, communion, and the burden of his heart for them a secret. He did not just assure them that he was “praying for them.” He was duty bound to tell them for what he prayed concerning them. There are times when it is appropriate, due to economy of time, to simply inform someone that you are in prayer for them. At other times it is fitting to pray along with a brother right on the spot. In the day when Paul wrote, pre-telephone and pre-instant communication, it made total sense to express the focused requests for God’s glory in their behalf. Wouldn’t you want Paul to intently pray this prayer for you today? Bless someone else by bearing the same burden for them before the throne of grace.

Both the scope and the precision of his requests are instructive for us. He does not have a concern for their “positional” righteousness, for they are born again. Rather, he is praying concerning “practical” righteousness. He prays concerning a: Worthy Walk—that their spiritual trend in behavior will be deemed worthy by God of being called saints, holy and set apart for God (whom God counts worthy, He first makes worthy); Worthy Work—work that “makes complete every good purpose of God in His delightful kindness through His saints and that those great-hearted works may be noble works of faith (every good work of the believer is to be “marked by, spring from, and sustained through faith,” there is no room for selfish ambition or haphazard good deeds); Worthy Witness—Christ glorified in and through the gloriously lived life of a transformed saint before the critical gaze of a lost world (Isaiah 66:5).

Has your prayer life grown stale, myopic, and intermittent? Are you praying the things that are in harmony with the working of God’s grace in the saints around you (Ephesians 2:8–10)? Trust and obey.