The Request

“Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you, and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.”  2 Thessalonians 3:1
Paul had the humility and the wisdom to request personal prayers to be made, on his behalf. His request was a call for help, and an admission of need. Both are heard from the lips of the smallest child. They also reveal the maturity of the strongest believer. Nothing expresses the humility and the hope of child of God like the three little words, “Pray for us!”
 Spreading and glorify the word of The Lord was the burning passion of Paul’s life, not his health and wealth. He asked for prayers from his friends, and fellow believers to fuel the fire in his heart to see as people exposed to The Light, as quickly as possible. He asked them to pray for him “that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified.” This is a far cry from what passes for prayer today. Prayer was not a means for Paul to satisfy his need for greed, but to supply what people needed the most, Jesus.
Paul had seen God move with power and speed before among these very believers. He had been in their city for less than a month when he was forced out of town by Jewish opposition, and these new believers were left on their own to deal with the persecution that came upon them. He knew he could count on them to understand his next request. Paul asked for them to pray that, “we will be rescued from perverse and evil men.”  
Paul called upon people to pray for him, not as an optional devotional exercise, but as his back up in a perpetual conflict with evil. His request for prayer was not an invitation for his friends to take walk in the park with him. It was a call for help to enter a wrestling match with his enemies.
Paul knew the ultimate struggle was not against flesh and blood. It was not physical, but spiritual. Yet, he was not immune from the intimidation of the immediate. He knew the physical, emotional and spiritual trauma of being abused by people who were willing hand puppets of the enemy.
“Perverse and evil” people are not the source of evil, but they are often willing conduits and pipes for the sewage that flows from it. Unwitting dupes, or cleverly disguised under cover agents of the evil one hurt and hinder people whose great passion in life is spreading and glorifying the word of The Lord. 
Not everything that appears green in your yard is a sign of fresh water. It may reveal a leak in the septic tank. Praying for “perverse and evil” people doesn’t always remove them from your yard, but it will keep you from digging a hole to get at them, only to end up smelling like them.
Prayer will help you plow around a rock in the field, instead of plowing right through it. Prayer will keep you focused on sowing seed, and moving on to more fertile ground.
“When you come to a rock in the field, don’t dynamite it. Plow around it.” Dr. Harry Piland
Recently, I hosted a table at a prayer meeting that was marked by a sign, “Personal Needs.” I had been asked to intercede for any personal prayer requests people attending the prayer meeting might be willing to share. Personal needs are always a bit awkward for complete strangers to reveal to one another, but answered prayer begins by leaving our comfort zone and admitting we are in need of prayer, and asking for help.
 I have learned that it is not unusual for people to balk at the opportunity to openly request prayer for their own needs, their family’s need or their friend’s needs unless the pressing needs are the loss of health or the loss of a job. Apparently, when we are healthy and wealthy, other personal needs don’t readily come to mind or require intercession.
I once served as a church staff member responsible for coordinating an Adult Education Ministry. I began calling the Bible Study leaders of the departments on Saturday night to pray with them. I would ask, “How can I pray for you?” Their response was generally an awkward silence, followed by a common line, “Nothing that I can think of. We’re all OK.”  I then asked permission to pray for them. Once granted the privilege, I began to pray for the leader, their spouse and family, the people who would be attending in the morning, those who were going to be guests, those who were chronic absentees, and asked God’s Spirit to move in a mighty way in the lives of the members of that department to restore marriages, rebuild friendships, that would bring honor an d glory to God. It took about a minute. Week after week as I called, the prayer time became longer and longer, as the leaders began to open their hearts, and share the pressing needs of their lives. It was a great lesson. People have to know you care before they will trust you with prayer.
NOTE TO SELF: There is simply nothing like the blessing that comes from having a friend who will stand in the gap and pray for you about a pressing need. Never stop maturing in your own personal prayer life, but never outgrow the childlike capacity to admit your need to friends and to request prayers be made on your behalf. Paul was humble enough to say, “Pray for us.” You should be too. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!