Prayers of Paul: A Prayer for Godly Living


When circumstances caused the Apostle Paul to depart the newly-formed Thessalonian church quickly, he left a church partially instructed in the basics of their new faith. Once safe, Paul wrote a letter (or epistle) to them to help them in their knowledge of essential doctrines of the gospel. When he received an update on the Thessalonian church, he was happy to hear of their growth, but also discovered they had misunderstood part of his letter to them. They adopted some erroneous view of the Second Coming of Jesus. Some quit their jobs and stopped working because they believed Jesus was coming any day.

In response, Paul wrote a second letter to the congregation.

Paul also prays for the people (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12) and how they should live under the pressure of cultural and religious persecution. 

Paul uses two words in his prayer that summarize the Christian life—grace and Glory. Both words are associated with the two comings of Jesus Christ—grace particularly with the first Coming; and Glory especially with His second Coming. He prays that they would live with both in mind—the grace to live today alongside the hope of what’s coming tomorrow.

Looking at the prayer more closely:

  1. Paul prayed constantly. Praying at all times will be a recurring theme as we dive into the prayers of the Apostle Paul. Imagine the busiest person you know and the time they have to pray. Paul, intellectual, teacher, and missionary always prayed in spite of how busy he was. He never allowed his busy-ness to interfere with praying for people.
  2. Paul prayed “that our God will count you worthy of your calling.” The Greek word axioō means to think or count something as worthy. It often meant the estimation of us formed by God. This “worth” is not suggesting that we can earn God’s approval by works or other means. It has to do with living a life that reflects God’s love for us. Godly living is developed by looking forward to the hope of the triumphant future as well as living in the testing present—holding firmly to God’s Glory and grace. Pastor John MacArthur wrote, “Paul prayed that the Thessalonians would also prove worthy in practice through Holy Spirit sanctification…as they become more like Jesus Christ, Christians become more deserving to bear His name. One important way God makes believers more worthy of their calling is through suffering (see 2 Thessalonians 1:5).” [John F. MacArthur Jr., 1 & 2 Thessalonians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 2002), 257]
  3. Paul prayed for their “work of faith.” Paul encourages them to continue their work, marked by faith, springing from faith, and sustained by their faith.
  4. Paul prayed for “goodness.” One commentator wrote, “There is a rich satisfaction in doing and being good. Loving acts, gracious words, thoughtful affirmations all have a way of bringing ‘the good pleasures of goodness.’” [Gary W. Demarest and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, 1, 2 Thessalonians / 1, 2 Timothy / Titus, vol. 32, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984), 116]
    Paul knew that goodness is contagious and living a life of goodness causes more goodness to develop in ourselves and in others whom we touch.
  5. Paul prayed that God would be glorified. The Apostle uses the phrase “so that” to bring some closure to his thoughts. He also wanted to communicate the benefits of godly living. Paul is praying that the Thessalonians speak, act, and suffer in a manner that others see the manifestation of the characteristics of God in their lives. To “glorify Christ” means then to portray Christ’s nature in your life. Paul’s prayer confirms the end of the search for the significance of their lives.

A closing thought from my friend and co-teacher Julie Sumner: “Paul always seems to pray with the long view in mind, even while praying for the nuts and bolts of our every day earthly lives. He reminds the church that their good purposes and acts of faith in godly living have consequences here and now, but also eternally, and require fulfillment via the power of God. Also, notice that Paul does not pray specifically for their material circumstances or consequences, but rather for their immaterial needs. For Paul, the material of our lives is always a consequence of the immaterial working in our spirits, hearts, and minds.”

Questions to ponder:

  1. How does Paul’s prayer for godly living under stress, persecution, and trails help you to pray for yourself when you’re under such circumstances?
  2. How does Paul’s prayer for godly living under harsh circumstances help you to pray for others who may be going through a rough time?
  3. How does Paul’s prayer for godly living under harsh circumstances help you to pray for your church and the Church universal?

Leave a Reply

  • Search

Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

©2014 Wayne Hastings. All Rights Reserved. Site by Birdsong Creative.