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Praying for Others with an Eye on Jesus

2 Thessalonians 1:12 (ESV) … “so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In verse 11-12 of 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul himself seems to have been overwhelmed at the magnificence of the prospect of Jesus coming in glory. As usual, when Paul found himself overwhelmed when he prayed! “Wherefore also we pray always for you,” he says. Paul did not pray just when he was in a tight corner; he also prayed when he was in a bright corner.

The daily habit of saintly George Müller of Bristol was to spend the first part of every day getting his own soul “happy in the Lord,” as he put it. His procedure was simple. He would read a small portion of Scripture and meditate upon it until the truth that it revealed burned into his soul. He would then turn that truth into prayer. He would relate it to his own needs and the needs of others and carry the truth of it back to God in praise, worship, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession. That seems to be what Paul did here. The wondrous revelation concerning the coming day of glory needed to be returned to God at once in prayer for his beloved Thessalonians.

He prayed for two things. He prayed about the nature of their calling: “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” (1:11b). What a calling they had! To be the vehicle through which the universe of created beings will give glory to God and admiration to Christ! Oh, that God would make them worthy of such a calling! How could He do that? By making them good, even as He is good. What a challenge to our faith!

That was the sum and substance of this prayer. Paul prayed that every desire of goodness would be fulfilled and that every work of faith would be achieved.

In our average modern prayer meetings, we pray that sister so-and-so might recover from her illness or that brother what’s-his-name would be able to get a better job or that Dr. Sawbones would be able to find a suitable assistant. It’s not that it’s wrong to pray for things like that, but most of our prayer requests are for such things. Paul rarely records a prayer for physical or material things. If we individually and collectively adopted Paul’s plan, or George Müller’s plan, our prayers would soar. Probably, too, they would cease to be so boring.

Then, too, Paul prayed about the name of the Christ: “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:12). The Lord Jesus is going to be glorified in His saints; Paul has already assured us of that. We shall come with Him, straight from the parousia, with the judgment seat behind us and the apocalypse before us. Every spot, every wrinkle, and every such thing will be gone. We shall be His Bride, fit indeed to sit with Him in heavenly places, able to bask in the fierce light that beats upon His throne. He is to be glorified in His saints.

One way to hasten that glorious consummation is for His name to be glorified in us here and now. Twice in this part of his petition, Paul gives Him His full title—Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord! That is His sovereign name. The word is kurios, meaning “owner.” It carries the idea of lordship arising out of ownership. Jesus said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13). In the Gospels themselves, the name Jesus occurs many times, but He is rarely addressed as Jesus. Demons addressed Him so (Matt. 8:29), and He invariably silenced them. It is irreverent to address Him as “Jesus” or as “dear Jesus” or with any such terms. He is Lord.

That means, of course, that we are to do what He says. He warned,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21–23)

He is Lord. Thomas discovered it once all of his doubts were settled (John 20:24–29). Peter had to learn that he could not say, “Not so, Lord” (Acts 10:14). It is either one or the other. If He is Lord, we cannot say, “Not so”; if we say, “Not so,” He is not Lord—at least in that situation.

Jesus! That is His saving name The name is derived from Jehoshua (Joshua) and means “Jehovah the Savior.” It is the name we associate with His cradle because when He was born the angel instructed Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

We associate the name with His character because Paul tells us, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). It is a stainless name, above reproach. As Christians who share that name, we must do or say nothing to bring reproach upon it. The world fouls that name, uses it as a swear word, and joins it to the foulest words known to the tongue; Satan fears that name, and demons flee before it. Rather, we must further that name. The character it embodies must be our character, too.

We associate that name with His cross. When Christ was crucified, Pilate wrote an inscription in Latin, Hebrew, and Greek and nailed it above His head—“JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

We associate that name with His concern. When He went back home to heaven, He took His place on the throne of God. Now He ministers there on behalf of His people. He is that “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). He is there to be our “advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

We associate that name with His coming. At the time of His ascension, while the awestruck disciples were still riveted to Olivet and still staring up into heaven, two angels appeared. “This same Jesus,” they said, “which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

We associate that Name with His coronation. For “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and … every tongue … confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9–11).

Christ! That is the sufficient name. The name is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Mashiah (Messiah). Christos has the same meaning, deriving from chriō, “to anoint.” The name embraces all of our needs. In the Old Testament, three people were anointed for their office—the prophet, the priest, and the king. As the Christ, He is the Lord’s Anointed One. As such, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and anointed Him at His baptism (Matt. 3:16). As such, too, He announced Himself in the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:18–19). The Holy Spirit not only filled Him from the beginning but also was given to Him without measure at His anointing so that He might be all-sufficient for every need or demand made upon Him (John 3:34). The three offices of the Old Testament era that were associated with anointing were climaxed in Him. He was a revealing prophet—“Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). He was a righteous priest, a priest after the order of Melchizek (Heb. 7:1–8:6). And He is a returning prince (John 14:1–3; Rev. 1:7).

Lord Jesus Christ! Lord—that emphasizes His power; Jesus—that emphasizes His person; and Christ—that emphasizes His position. No wonder Paul saw in this name the guarantee that all of God’s purposes concerning Him and us will be fulfilled. He is yet to be glorified in His saints publicly before an awestruck universe. His name is yet to be glorified in us. We are yet to be glorified in Him. The “grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ has underwritten it all.” This truth occupied Paul’s mind and heart as he prayed. [1]

[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring 1 & 2 Thessalonians: An Expository Commentary (2 Th 1:11b–12). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.

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