“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
I was shocked when they let us take our son home. He had only been alive for a few days. From the moment he was born we were dependent on the hospital staff to help us care for him. I had hoped that some sort parental DNA would suddenly kick in the moment our son was born. I wanted something that gave us the answers to the thousands of questions about how to raise a child. No such luck. When the hospital staff told us it was time to go I secretly hoped that they would send a nurse with us or, at the very least, they would issue us an owner’s manual. Again, nothing. How were we supposed to help this child grow? Could we provide all that it would need to mature? What would it look like to nurture this sacred and precious life at each stage of development?
The letter to the community in Thessalonica addresses these questions about nurturing life. However, instead of nurturing a newborn child, the Apostle Paul is nurturing a newborn church.
In this week’s devotional we’ll be exploring the theme of “nurturing” through the lens of 1 Thessalonians. This epistle is considered to be the first letter, if not the first writing, of the New Testament. Through this letter Paul nurtures a nascent community and encourages them to grow in faith, to support one another, and to change their world by the power of God’s love. He does this most poignantly through the prayers woven into the letter.
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember…your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope” (1:2-3)
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other” (3:12)
“May the God of peace sanctify you through and through…The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (5:23-24)
Paul models what it looks like to nurture one another with prayer and reminds us that we are nurtured by the prayers of others. Even when we don’t know what to say or when we are unaware of the prayers of others, we are still nurtured by prayer.
The scripture says, “when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words” (Romans 8:26)
Prayer sustains and cultivates our hearts without ceasing. Like the gentle rhythm of our breath, the Spirit immerses us in prayer and sings peace to our soul.