Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)
The Running Word
Paul had a vivid manner of describing the power of the gospel. To the Roman saints the word of God was the power of the gospel. Writing to the disciples at Thessalonica he first describes the gospel as sounding forth in every place. In his second letter, the apostle illustrates the word as running. The sense of the word in the text is the desire of Paul for the gospel to spread quickly or speed ahead – having the intended impact on the hearts that hear it. It could be an illustration Paul would have noticed of runners who were free from any impediments that would hinder their race. His prayer was a simple desire hoping the power of the word of God would spread quickly through the world saving souls. Throughout his missionary journeys the apostle was filled with the zeal and dedicated spirit to take the word of God to every person he could find. His passion for lost soul was unmatched. The church at Thessalonica could help in that effort by lifting up prayers that any hindrance to the gospel would be removed. There were many who would oppose the teaching of Christ. Prayers were needed to open doors.
Without the gospel, a man cannot find eternal life. Faith derives its knowledge from the word of God. The disciples of the First Century were passionate about sharing the story of Jesus Christ. They lived under the pretense that Jesus was coming back soon. Their lives were molded not by a spirit of apathy but great zeal to let the world know the truth of eternal life in Christ. Paul’s prayer along with the devotion of the saints at Thessalonica would help the word of God ‘put on running shoes’ and without hindrance go to the uttermost parts of the world. This reflects a state of mind on the part of the apostle and the brethren.
The church today needs to pray for the gospel to spread quickly. It begins by praying for those who are doing the work of teaching. Asking the Lord to remove hindrances that would slow the progress of the word is vital to its success. This is an important prayer. Paul desired the spread of the gospel for the glory of God. His prayer was intense. It was filled with a deep love for what the word of the Lord can do in the lives of men. There are many who would oppose the preaching but Paul seeks a higher power to make the word have free course in the world. We do not live in a world much changed from the days of Paul. Often brethren think few will be interested in the gospel because the world has become so anti-God. The days of the Roman Empire were far more adversarial than today yet Paul is praying for the speed of the gospel to change hearts of men. He understood the power of prayer and the power of the gospel.
Jesus gave His life for the eternal hope of man to live with the Father in heaven. His life changed the world. The ministry of the early disciples fueled the word of God to spread to every creature under heaven. They changed the world. It can still have that power if the disciples of the Lord will pray for the word to move quickly among men changing hearts and changing lives. The fields are white to harvest. Pray for workers. Pray for the word to have success. Pray for opposition to be removed. Let the word run through the world with the power of the Lord. Let’s put on our running shoes and get busy.
God forgive us, in an hour like this; that we have been dry Christians, preaching a dynamite gospel and living firecracker lives. (Vance Havner, 1901-1986)