Any ministry that is seeking to become real or authentic will pray for one another. It's that simple. If a church desires to grow together with each other and for the glory of the Lord, they will spend serious time earnestly praying for one another.
Have you ever said you would pray for someone, but then never thought about them again until they gave an update several weeks later? My guess is that is not just something that has happened to me. To authentically pray for one another, it means we do not go through the motions of prayer. It means that we are not simply saying words, but there is a heartfelt commitment to the people that we are praying for.
That was Paul's heart toward the people of Thessalonica. He longed for them and he finally hears that they long for him as well. They had not abandoned their faith, but they were growing stronger and stronger. In response to this great news, Paul prays for them. One of the keys to understanding this section of Scripture is to realize the relationship that Paul had with them. Our prayers for each other will be enhanced when we pursue relationships with each other, but we also need to be willing to be pursued. That means, we need to let the guards down in our life and be real and open so people can pray for us.
In order to prove that, think back to the last time you were with a group of people taking prayer requests. When was the last time your small group had someone share about their marriage struggles, their loneliness issues, or their financial strains? Most prayer requests are about someones medical issues. They are important things to pray about, but they are safe prayer requests.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Paul gives us 3 Prayers We Should Pray For One Another.
First, We Can Be Thankful To God For Each Other (vs. 9). Paul was so thankful to God for what God had done in their life that he didn't really even know what to say. He was unsure if the words he had to express himself would even get close to communicating how he felt about their spiritual growth.
Second, We Can Pray For Opportunities To Serve Each Other (vs. 10-11). Paul was thankful for their growth, but he wasn't content with it. He wanted them to continue to grow and he prayed that God would allow him to be part of the process to help them grow. The equivalent for us might be the older lady praying earnestly for opportunities to invest into the lives of younger ladies. It might be someone praying how they can invest into the life of newer believers. It might be some young adult praying for ways they could get involved into the lives of students. It is a prayer of desire to want to help others continue to grow in their faith.
Third, We Can Pray That Others Increase In Their Love For One Another (vs. 12-13). We should continually pray that others in the church would grow in their love for one another. Why is this important? It is vital because the gospel brings together people who normally wouldn't be together. While theologically, we are brought together as one body, we will constantly fight against our selfish nature. We can pray for unity, for genuine care and sacrifice for one another. We can pray that nobody shows favoritism. We can pray for forgiveness. We can pray that there are never any grievances that are never held onto. We should pray that loves increases in the church.
If you want to listen to the entire message, you can find it HERE. I hope you find the entire message very practical and encouraging, not guilt-rendering.