Devotionals Online: 03

Variations on a Benediction

Verses to Read: 1 Thes. 3:11-13

One of the things that I really appreciate about a good worship service is the benediction at the end of of the service. It’s almost always a short saying that is a good thought about God’s glory, and our response to that glory. Often it’s said as a sort of a blessing, a directed prayer that God’s goodness and grace would impact us and change us in some way. That’s often what I think about when I hear a benediction.

This phrase at the end of 1 Thes. 3 reads like a benediction at first glace. But upon reflection, I see something else; it’s like Paul is “riffing” (an improvisational theatre term) on the idea of a benediction, but his prayer isn’t just directed towards God, or towards the reader. Paul’s words are multifaceted: he prays for himself (“may God… direct our way…”), he prays for the Thessalonians (“may the Lord make you increase and about in love…”), and he lifts up God for praise as well (“…before our God… at the coming of our Lord Jesus…”).

I want to be multi-faceted like this! I want my words to be prayers that bring my personal concerns to God, while at the same time lifting up my concerns for others AND giving glory to God. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be single-minded (or compartmentlized?) in prayer. I saw these words from Paul, and I’m encouraged and challenged to make my prayers do double (or triple) duty.

Lord, as I learn to pray, please give me a heart for others’ needs that at least equals my personal concerns, so that in lifting others before You in prayer, we are all drawn to see Your glory and grace for us. Amen.

“To You be glory… to You be fame… to You be honor… Glorify Your name…”

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