In a business-school paper, researchers demonstrated that people value products more when they participate in their construction. Titled “The ‘IKEA Effect’: When Labor Leads to Love,” the paper studied the satisfaction reported by people who purchased from the Swedish retailer IKEA, which sells inexpensive furniture and household items that buyers must assemble.
Over the next few days, we will look at ways that we actively participate in evangelism. And, like the proud owners of a new waxed-wood coffee table, we will hopefully value evangelism more because of our labor.
In today’s passage, Paul first reminds the Thessalonian believers of their own salvation so that they will be encouraged to pray for the salvation of others (vv. 13–14). We know from personal experience the power of God at work for our salvation. We know that apart from His Spirit and the truth of the gospel, we would still be lost (v. 13). And this moves us to pray.
Our prayers are weapons in a spiritual war, which God uses to accomplish both judgment and salvation (see Eph. 6:10–20; Rev. 8:3–5; 2 Cor. 1:11). In response to the prayers of His people, God sends out gospel laborers into His abundant harvest field (Matt. 9:37–38). We pray, then, for our own evangelistic efforts, asking God to work in the hearts of our unbelieving friends and neighbors. And we pray for the evangelistic efforts of the whole church. We participate in the proclamation of the gospel throughout the whole world when we pray.
The prayer of every evangelist is an act of dependence on God. We know that one person may plant the seed and another may faithfully sprinkle the water, but God is the one who makes the tree of faith grow (see 1 Cor. 3:6–7).
Set aside time to pray for boldness as you speak to friends and neighbors, and also for the work of pastors and missionaries as they proclaim the gospel throughout the world. Thank the Lord that He allows us to participate in evangelism through our prayers, and praise Him for His faithfulness to hear our prayers and to call people to eternal life.