Paul's prayer is a model for us.
"For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?" 1 These. 3.9, 10
In so many ways, Paul sets the bar high for all who follow him as he follows Christ (1 Cor. 11.1). In these verses we are offered some insight to Paul’s prayer life, especially for the people he served. He prayed “night and day” for them. He prayed “exceedingly” to see them again. He could not find words sufficient to express his gratitude for the Thessalonians and their faithful witness for Christ (v. 9).
We note that Paul’s prayers were continuous (cf. 1 Thess. 5.17), intense, filled with thanksgiving, and provided entry into the Lord’s presence with joy. Wouldn’t it be great to have a prayer life like that?
Paul longed to return to Thessalonica and visit the brethren there to “perfect” them in their faith. What? They were already the talk of Greece and beyond. Their witness was firm. Their courage was unstinting. They bore up under persecution. And they were an example of love and good works for all believers. That’s all very good. But it’s never good enough. There is always more for our life in Christ, exceedingly abundantly more (Eph. 3.20). We are the recipients of a “great salvation” (Heb. 2.3), although much of the time we seem to act only like it’s “pretty good” or “good enough.”
When we long to improve our salvation toward the perfection of Jesus Christ, day by day, starting each day in God’s Word and prayer and journeying in prayer and His Spirit throughout the day, then we’ll begin to know more of that great salvation which is available to us in Jesus – salvation for which we will give unceasing thanks and in which we will know exceeding joy and rejoicing.
It is the work of shepherds to lead God’s people to a more “perfect” faith, and it is our privilege to encourage one another to press on together. That work begins in and must be sustained by prayer.