2 Thessalonians 3
GOSPEL FIRST: Paul in his letters does not often ask for prayer for himself, but when he does, he doesn't ask for prayers that everything in general will go well for him, but rather that the gospel might be blessed and take hold in the places Paul is planting it. This is what he begins chapter 3 asking for: that the message [word] of the Lord may spread and be honored, and that Paul's crew would be rescued from faithless people (v2).
THE LORD IS FAITHFUL: If the Lord is faithful, why doesn't He just make all of our problems disappear? Verses 3-5 give some indication as to how God's faithfulness works in protecting you from evil. Rather than weakening your problems, God strengthens and protects you (v3), and as you continue to do His will (v4), He directs your hearts into His love and perseverance (v5). That's way better than just making problems go away.
SNAP TO IT: One of the things that the Thessalonian people have been famous for over the years is the mistaken belief that Jesus was going to come back in a very short period of time. They had concluded that if Jesus was coming back next week, they might as well take the remainder of their time off. Would you show up at work if you thought there were only a few more days before Jesus returned?
Of course it's true that we're to always be ready, because it's possible that Jesus could come back at any moment, but at the same time we're to work and make plans as if life will go on for decades or even centuries. We have a strong heritage in the faith of men and women, who like the example Paul gives of his own hard work in v6-10, demonstrated well that beautiful Latin phrase seen on so many old barns: Ora et Labora (work and pray).
YOU'RE DESIGNED TO WORK: Sure, we like to daydream of how nice it would be to be able to sit on the beach all week long, or wile away the time fiddling around on a project in the shop without the worries and stress of daily labor constantly pushing down on us. And while occasional rest and time off is a good thing (in fact, it's commanded by God!), we are not designed to not work. Just like bad things happen when you use a machine in a way it's not designed to be used, bad things happen to you when you when do things you're not designed for. In our case, idleness results in disruption to our relationships (v11-13).
THREE BENEDICTION SERVICE: One of the cool things about 2 Thessalonians is that each of the three chapters ends with a benediction (lit: good words) of blessing for you. Read all three in sequence: 1:11-12 / 2:16-17 / 3:16, 18.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The Lord is faithful and strengthens and protects you (v3)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to direct your heart into His love and Christ's perseverance (v5) that you may work hard for Him
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: