Paul’s prayers for the Thessalonians identify faith, hope, love and habitual prayer as essential means of preparing for the return of Christ. After saying that he always thanked God’s for the Thessalonians’ faith, hope and love, he prays,
“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:9-11).
The apostle affirms again his continual prayer for these disciples. He also stresses his desire to return to them so that he may reinforce their faith. He prays that God and Jesus will make his return possible. He continues his prayer,
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thess. 3:12-13).
Prayer for “what is lacking in…faith” suggests a deficiency of hope, caused in part by lack of knowledge. He augments this with prayer that disciples will love not only those of their own community of faith, but everyone else. His prayer complements the command of Jesus to love one’s enemies. The apostle prays that they will be “blameless and holy” when the Lord returns. This sequence of prayer topics suggests that faith, hope, and love, together with the practice of prayer, produce the behaviors that will allow disciples of Jesus to await his return with confidence. Good spiritual mentors will encourage their mentees to nurture the enduring traits of faith, hope and love. They will model and encourage ethical and moral behavior that demonstrates holy behavior. Like Paul, they will remember that we must not compartmentalize our lives into sectors of secular and holy. His subsequent reminder to “pray continually” (5:17) reinforces this, as does his final prayer of blessing for the Thessalonians,
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23).