The passage below from Ecclesiastes is a popular one to read at weddings.
“Two are better than one…though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands cannot be broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 12
I never noticed what it says in verse 12 until I read it for a wedding I officiated just this past summer. I’ve officiated at least a dozen weddings and half of those weddings included this passage in the service so I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed verse 12 until now.
The third strand can arguably be interpreted as God. If God is the bond between two people the bond is not easily broken. The sermon on Sunday (if you missed it, you can listen to it here) was about the Christ centered (or bound by God) friendship between Paul and the Thessalonians and how prayer was an important part of that friendship.
Paul prays that Jesus Christ would “strengthen their hearts” (1 Thess 3:12) so that their love for one another and for all increases to the point of overflowing. He also prays that they would “stand blameless” (1 Thess 3:13) before God when Jesus returns. Paul isn’t saying be “perfect” in all you do so that you can be blameless before God. That would be asking the impossible. But verse 12 emphasizes what Paul said in verse 11 of this prayer. To be “blameless before God” is to have loved each other well. This can’t be done without the power of the Holy Spirit. To love each other well out of the love Christ has for all is the mark of true Christian community. It’s the mark of true, Christ centered relationships where people are praying for another by praying with one another. It’s one of the ways we see transformation in our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.
Paul also prayed that God would “clear the way” for he and the Thessalonians to be reunited. Likewise, we could be praying for God to clear the way of any obstacles that may be keeping us from finding others to pray with. Perhaps those obstacles are time, finding the right prayer partner(s), or maybe it’s our own fear of praying out loud. Whatever is keeping us from actually praying with others, God desires and can “clear the way” these things so that we are able to experience strong, Christ centered friendships where we are praying for and with one another.
As I said on Sunday, if you need help finding a prayer partner or aren’t sure what praying aloud with someone could look like please don’t hesitate to contact me or Cinda Siligmueller. We would love to help with this!
May we continue to pray for each other as Paul did day and night for the Thessalonians that the Lord would “strengthen our hearts” so that our love for Christ, for each other and for all would grow deeper still.
Grateful to be on this faith journey with you,
Kristine Aragon Bruce
Associate Pastor for Family Ministries