I have learned how to pray by being around others who pray. That started by listening to my parents pray over meals and at bedtime. I have learned by hearing pastors pray prepared and spontaneous prayers out loud in church. I paid attention to leaders of small groups I attended in college as they taught me how to pray the A.C.T.S. acrostic (adoration-confession-supplication-thanksgiving). The leader would model one of the ACTS letters in a short, conversational tone of a sentence or two and the ask each of us in the group to imitate their prayer in a similar manner. Later, as I read Scripture for myself, I came across various prayers in the Old and New Testaments and added them to my practices.
I still enjoy reading the stories and examples of men and women recorded in Scripture. Take a moment and read the first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians in one sitting.
Now review the following list of qualities I picked out of the book that reflect the heart and character of the the apostle Paul towards the saints in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 1:2 – A life of thankfulness and prayer
1 Thessalonians 1:3 – A hopeful, pastoral mindset towards others
1 Thessalonians 1:4 – A vision for what God wanted to do in others
1 Thessalonians 1:5 – A clear, anointed messenger for the gospel
1 Thessalonians 1:6 – A transparent and imitatable example
1 Thessalonians 2:2 – A courageous ability to endure opposition
1 Thessalonians 2:3 – A life of discipline, pure motives and integrity
1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 – A tested life that pleases and honors God
1 Thessalonians 2:7 – A gentleness/tenderness in dealing with others
1 Thessalonians 2:8 – An authenticity that leads to truly loving people (and show affection)
1 Thessalonians 2:9 – A willingness to set yourself aside for others
1 Thessalonians 2:10 – A trustworthy and blameless example
1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 – An encouraging, fatherly, disposition that calls others forward
1 Thessalonians 2:17-19 – An intense longing to see people mature
1 Thessalonians 3:2-5 – A concern for other’s stability, even from a distance
1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 – A sincere gratefulness for the success of others
1 Thessalonians 3:10 – An earnest effort and prayer to disciple others
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 – A teaching capacity that exhorts people how to live to please God
1 Thessalonians 4:18 – An ability to comfort and instruct with sound doctrine
1 Thessalonians 5:6 – A watchfulness for those under your care
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 – A checklist for pastoral leaders
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – A firm reliance on the author of our salvation – the Faithful One.
I have gained great depth and breadth to my prayers (and my life) as I ask the Holy Spirit to build the qualities and actions of the apostle Paul that I saw in this letter into my own life. Grow devotionally. Read the book of 1 Thessalonians daily for a week or two. Use my list of verses and the general thought above as a daily framework of prayer for yourself. Then watch the Lord transform you into a more mature Christ-honoring person of influence.
Love is a verb,
©2016 by Mike Olejarz