1 Thessalonians 5:25

I. THE APOSTLE ASKS AN INTEREST IN THE PRAYERS OF THE THESSALONIANS. "Brethren, pray for us."

1. He did not feel himself independent, in spite of all his high graces and gifts, of the intercessions of the humblest disciples. His request is a proof of his deep humility.

2. His position, with the care of all the Churches upon his heart, entitled him to their prayers. He said to the Roman Christians, "Strive together with me in your prayers to God for me."

(1) He wanted a door of utterance as well as a door of entrance.

(2) He wanted to be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.

(3) He wanted to see the gospel flourishing in all the Churches.

II. EXHORTATION FOR CHRISTIANS TO SALUTE EACH OTHER. "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss." Eastern customs differ from Western; but the salutation ought still to prevail in all our Churches, not in the letter, but in the spirit. It ought to express the feeling of oneness, of affection, of equality among the disciples of the same Lord. Christianity purifies and elevates worldly courtesy.

III. SOLEMN ADJURATION TO HAVE THE EPISTLE READ TO ALL THE BRETHREN. "I charge you by the Lord that this Epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." Conjectures have been freely expressed that the elders at Thessalonica may have been disinclined to read the letter to the Church. There is not much ground for the opinion.

1. This Epistle was the first ever written by the apostle to any Church; and as the disciples may not have known how to use it, he gives specific directions on the subject.

2. He recognizes the right of all the brethren to read it. Rome denies to the laity this right. - T.C.







Brethren, pray for us
I. THE GROUNDS OF THIS APPEAL.

1. The character of the men required. "Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest," etc. The work requires fully qualified workers. It must have apostolic, unselfish, unworldly, spiritual, sympathetic, brotherly men. Pray for such. Only God can send them.

2. The work they are called to accomplish —(1) There are evils to be vanquished before the good can be created — apathy, a dead conscience, helpless dependence on others. On the other hand, the missionary has to create a spirit of hopefulness and of self-help, and the recognition of the Divine claim. He has to secure a quickened conscience to stand trembling in the presence of sin, and yet able to rest immovable in the recollection of free grace and dying love.(2) There are special difficulties he has to overcome.(a) He has no human constraints. At home if a man neglects his work his material interest suffers; the salary of the missionary is constant. At home the pastor has his equals; abroad he is supreme. At home we are under constant inspection; the missionary is thousands of miles away from criticism. These constraints are very helpful, however unpalatable; and lacking them the missionary needs our prayers.(b) He has no human helps of association and sympathy to which we owe so much, of these the missionary often knows nothing. What solitude of mind, heart and sorrow! far from country, kindred, home! All sights and sounds uncongenial.(c) He meets with frequent and bitter disappointment — rank hypocrisy where conversion seemed sound.(d) Then there is the climate and its effects. How much we are indebted to our much complained of and variable weather for the strength of our physique. In India the more regular climate seems to dry up all the energies. But this is nothing compared to the vitiating moral atmosphere.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS APPEAL.

1. What it supposes.(1) Faith in prayer. Prayer is of the essence of religion, and if prayer be not availing then religion is an illusion and must die. But if it be availing then religion is a practical force and cannot die.(2) Faith in the gospel, for it is the universal law of God's service that no man shall take a share in His work without faith. Without it we cannot please Him, secure His Spirit, nor rouse and devote our energies to the conversion of souls. But given faith all things are possible.(3) Brotherly sympathy. Missionaries are "brethren" calling on the same Father, steeped in the same temper, going to the same reward.

2. What, if we comply with it, will it bring?(1) All will be occupied at the same time and in the same work. Some are strong, some weak; some are rich, some poor; some are learned, others ignorant — but all can pray, and this is the grandest privilege and mightiest power of all.(2) All will be benefitted by it. He who prays, he for whom prayer is offered.(3) It will be for the Divine honour, "Not by might nor by power," etc.(4) It will appropriate and apply God's benefits.

(J. Aldis.)

It is useless for any man to pray unless he has, even to every human being, this brotherly feeling. True prayer is the outflowing of a kind and loving heart. Ministers need specially the sympathies and prayers of their people on account of —

1. The difficulties of their work.

2. The peculiar trials of their work; and

3. The twofold results of their work.

I. THE DIFFICULTIES OF MINISTERIAL WORK. The first difficulty here is to be always in a proper mental mood for mental work. There is —

1. A work of preparation for the pulpit, and —

2. A work of communication in the pulpit. The result in either case depends upon the atmosphere which surrounds the preacher's soul — upon the current of his inmost feeling. It is the duty of every Christian minister, however great his mental culture and creative genius, to make special and careful preparation for the pulpit. To keep clear of all disturbing forces, so as, at the proper time to retain the power of fixing the mind upon the subject to be investigated, and to be just then in a state of spiritual repose "in the spirit," the state which is the condition of spiritual perception, as the truth is spiritually discerned, requires great grace. The second difficulty is the finding of a variety of subjects — subjects which shall —

(1)Be taken hold of by the preacher's own mind.

(2)Be relished by the people; and —

(3)Prove permanently profitable to both.

II. THE TRIALS OF MINISTERIAL WORK. The first of these trials arises from a deep consciousness of personal weakness and inadequacy for the work. These trials arise from want of success.

III. THE TWO-FOLD EFFECT OF MINISTERIAL WORK, The final result of every human work is solemn. The day of final reckoning is solemn to every one, but yet the issues in that day, of ministerial work here, will be perhaps the most solemn of all solemn things. I have spoken of the minister's need of an interest in your prayers. I have spoken of the cheering influence which an assurance of this will have upon his own spirit, how it will actually give a richer tint to the glorious truths of God's Holy Book as they will be, from time to time, presented in his discourses. But, as all forces in nature are reciprocal in their action, so does prayer act upon him who prays as well as upon him for whom the prayer is offered. If you wish to be profited by the preaching, pray for the preacher.

(Evan Lewis, B. A.)

What is the prayer for which I ask? It is not the self-willed importunity of him who thinks he shall be heard for his much speaking. It is not the opening to God of thoughts which His love has not anticipated. It is not the pleading of our personal wishes as isolated objects of Divine favour; say, rather, it is the humblest, tenderest, most unquestioning expression of our dependence, the confession of our wants and weaknesses, as we have felt them, the firmest resolution to rest in God's will, and to make His will our own; the energy of a spiritual communion by which we realize our own well-being in the well-being of others; the endeavour to quicken and chasten and hallow every prompting of duty by the light of heaven. In this sense, "brethren, pray for us." Such prayer corresponds —

I. WITH OUR CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. We are not, we cannot be, alone. In itself the fact is fitted to oppress us with the feeling of our powerlessness. But it can be transfigured. And to pray one for another is to transfigure it. When St. Paul speaks of Christians being "in Christ," he has gathered up the gospel in two syllables; he has proclaimed the unfailing bond of fellowship, the adequate provision for effective ministry, the victorious sovereignty of redeeming love.

II. WITH OUR PRESENT NEEDS.

III. WITH OUR DIVINE ASSURANCE. Christianity deals with social problems, not accidentally, but in virtue of its existence. For us the Incarnation is the rule and the motive power. The Resurrection is the sign of God's purpose for all material and transitory things, the transfiguration of the completeness of human life. The Christian Church is, as we believe, the present organ of a living Spirit. We claim for it, in virtue of the assurance of the Lord, not simply the right of existence or the power of self-defence, but the certainty of conquest.

(Bp. Westcott.)

I. DIRECTIONS. Pray for us.

1. That we may be furnished with all proper gifts and graces for our work.

2. That we may be preserved from the defections of the age.

3. That we may be helped to fulfil our ministry in the best manner.

4. That our ministry may be accepted of God in Christ, and of His people.

5. That we may be made successful in our work.

6. That the usefulness of our lives may be continued.

7. That we may be united with one another, and with the Churches of Christ, in carrying on the work of the Lord.

8. That our own souls may be saved, and that we may give up our accounts with joy in the day of the Lord Jesus.

II. CONSIDERATIONS.

1. Our work is very important.

2. Our difficulties in managing it are many — arising from the work, ourselves, and our hearers.

3. Our strength is small.

4. The residue of the Spirit is with the Lord, and there is room for hope that, by the help of your fervent prayers, it may be brought down upon us.

5. Our prayers and labours for you call for a return of your prayers for us.

6. The answer of your prayers for us will turn to your own benefit, and to the advancement of Christ's kingdom and glory.

(J. Gouge, D. D.)

Pray for us —

I. AS TEACHERS, that we may be taught of the Holy Spirit, and have more of the mind of Jesus; and that eschewing all false doctrine — the materialistic and the sensuous on the one side; and the rationalistic and the sceptical on the other — we may hold, and teach, and feel, the truth in all its proportions.

II. AS PREACHERS AND EVANGELISTS, that we may never preach ourselves, but Christ only, in all His fulness, without limit: affectionately, earnestly, persuasively, lovingly, savingly: give true bread to our people: speaking as a dying man to dying men; as a redeemed soul to souls for whom Jesus died.

III. AS MINISTERS OF HOLY SACRAMENTS, THE WORD, AND SERVICES OF THE CHURCH. That her beauty and grace may never be injured by us, and that we may do all holy things with a holy mind; and that God will so honour His own ordinance, that, even at our lips, His Word may go with the greater power; and when there shall be made a true confession, the assurance of absolving grace may reach comfortably even through us, to the yet unquiet conscience; and true sacrifices arise at our hands, from fervent and united hearts; and the whole Church "grow up into Him in all things which is the Head."

IV. AS MEN, "Brethren, pray for us." Acknowledging and claiming, by that word, a common brotherhood, — lest, perhaps, they might think of him only in his official capacity. "Pray for us" as men, subject as much — if not more — to the same infirmities that you are; poor, ignorant men, that know nothing as they ought to know it; wanting guidance at every step, and sympathy, and the blood of Jesus to wash both their bodies and their souls.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

John Livingstone, of Scotland, once spent a whole night with a company of his brethren in prayer for God's blessing, all of them together beseiging the throne; and next day, under his sermon, eight hundred souls were converted. All the world has known how the audience of President Edwards was moved under his terrible sermon on "Sinners in the hands of an angry God." But the secret of that sermon is known to but few. Some Christians in the vicinity had become alarmed, lest while God was blessing other places He should in anger pass them by; and so they met on the previous evening and spent the whole night in agonizing prayer.

(H. C. Fish, D. D.)

Clerical Library.
A worthy minister of the gospel, in North America, was pastor of a flourishing Church. He was a popular preacher, but gradually became less to his hearers, and his congregation very much decreased. This was solely attributed to the minister; and matters continuing to get worse, some of his hearers resolved to speak to him on the subject. They did so; and when the good man had heard their complaints, he replied, "I am quite sensible of all you say, for I feel it to be true; and the reason of it is, that I have lost my prayer book. They were astonished at hearing this, but he proceeded: "Once my preaching was acceptable, many were edified by it, and numbers were added to the Church, which was then in a prosperous state. But we were then a praying people" They took the hint. Social prayer was again renewed and punctually attended. Exertions were made to induce those who were without to attend the preaching of the Word. And the result was, that the minister became as popular as ever, and in a short time the Church was again as flourishing as ever.

(Clerical Library.)

There was once in the old days a famous mission preacher; whenever he preached he was accompanied by a little blind boy, his brother. As the great preacher stood on chancel step, or in pulpit, and people wept or trembled at his words, close by would be the blind child, with his sightless eyes turned upward, as though watching his brother. One night, the preacher saw a vision in church, he thought an angel touched him, and pointed to the blind boy. Then he saw a stream of light from heaven shining on the sightless eyes, and he understood now that it was not the eloquence of the preacher, but the prayers of the blind child which wrought such wonderful results.

(W. Buxton.)

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