II Thess. 1:11. “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of His calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
Paul had used the picture of the Day of the Lord to encourage the Thessalonian believers in their affliction. Now he tells them that this same picture motivates him to pray for them always. It is not unusual for Paul to turn his teaching into prayer. He taught in a prayerful spirit, and he trusted God to indeed fulfill His own will. Today I want to take a look at the nature of this prayer, its substance; and tomorrow we’ll talk about its purpose.
Nature of the prayer: The word wherefore is also translated to which end. The prayer is made in view of the coming glorification of Christ in His saints, and is in the anticipation of that realization. The word also would indicate that this prayer is in addition to other prayers/activities of Paul, Silas, and Timothy. The always strongly states how often these believers were on Paul’s mind and heart.
Substance of the prayer: “That our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and every work of faith” (Hiebert). That first phrase looks back to verse 5, “that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” They have been called of God to salvation (Rom. 8:30; Eph. 4:1; I Thess. 4:7), which was a present calling. The future calling is they they walk worthily as they suffer for the eventual return of Christ and His kingdom. Paul was telling them to seek God every moment of their walk through this life, because God alone can provide for and equip His saints, by His grace, to fill the role He has chosen for them–to glorify Him and His Son. This is indeed a high calling, and something we need to think about in every step we take.
Is what I am about to do or say going to bring glory to Him? No? Then I won’t do it.
Lives would change.
The second part of the prayer, that every desire of goodness and work of faith would be fulfilled, is a wonderful thing. Phillips’ translation is “that He will effect in you all that His goodness desire to do.” The logical and expected manifestation of inner goodness, which comes from God, is the outward working of faith. James 1:22 urges us to be doers and not just hearers of our faith. In the same book, James 2:17 makes it clear that faith without works is a dead faith. This is not that our salvation depends on our works; far from it. But unless our faith results in our working for Him, it is a dead faith that profits nothing. His goodness motivates us to spread the gospel; our faithful working is the outward manifestation of His goodness.
With power: We can depend on the power of the Holy Spirit as we work out our faith in our lives. We are not left alone to do all that He has called us to do. It is when we lean on our own strength that we fail.
My work is often very difficult. So much of what I deal with in the counseling office is, to me, clearly a spiritual battle. I am very thankful that there are people who tell me they pray for me often when they know I’m working. Without God, I could do nothing. It is only through His goodness and His power that I am able to work out my faith.
Without Him, I’d surely fail.