“Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:10).
Things were going well for the church at Thessalonica. Paul was thrilled to get a glowing report from Timothy following his visit with them. But there were still areas in which they were deficient. They had some gaps in their faith that concerned Paul enough for him to pray night and day for them. “Night and day” means while he was “making tents,” he prayed for them. While he was teaching and preaching he prayed for them. He constantly prayed for his church family in Thessalonica. No matter where he was or what he was doing they were on his heart.
What were these deficiencies? Where were they lacking? Maybe they had an insufficient understanding of important doctrine (the second coming? See 5:1 ff). Perhaps they were not fully informed about godly ethical standards (controlling sexual urges? See 4:3 ff). Possibly they had gaps in their understanding of Christian relationships (busybodies? See 4:11-12). Conceivably they had a variance between their head-faith and their heart faith (quenching the Spirit? See 5:19-22).
Whatever these gaps may have been, they were drawing a lot of prayer out of Paul. He wanted them to be whole, complete, spiritually mature Christians. Such a prayer was not unusual for Paul. He prayed similar prayers for the Ephesians (1:15-23, 3:14-21) and the Philippians (1:3-11). But this prayer differs from the others in that he is not just praying for God to bring about the changes in their lives, he is praying for God to open the door for him to be able to see them face to face so he can supply what is missing.
In other cases Paul just asks God to change the hearts of the people for whom he is praying. Here Paul is praying for his being able to see them and supply what they need. I wonder why is a personal encounter so important in this particular situation? While communicating through letters and third parties could be effective, I guess Paul is reminding us nothing can ever take the place of people actually being together in the flesh, sharing the air.
How do we react when we encounter the gap-faithed? The strategy for furnishing what is missing begins with prayer. The remedy may very well require a personal meeting. But however the problem is addressed, it must be addressed! Church leaders need to discover Paul’s passion for equipping Christians rather than leaving them in their incomplete condition. God’s people need to be prepared for works of service so that the body of Christ can be built up (Ephesians 4:12). The process begins with prayer, night and day.