For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 ESV)
In regard to Paul’s prayer, D. A. Carson writes: “What is remarkable in this petition is not only the light it sheds on what Paul thinks is important and on his commitment to brothers and sisters in Christ, but also the way it mingles intercessory prayer and his own service….he prays that he himself might do it. He is like Isaiah after his vision of the Almighty: ‘Here am I. Send me!’ (Isa. 6:8). For Paul, prayer is not a substitute for Christian service; it is part of it. And apparently he cannot long pray for believers without longing to serve them himself.” (A Call to Spiritual Reformation, p. 90 – emphasis added)
Paul is not a cold professional merely doing his job. He is a servant of Christ who passionately loves and ministers to the needs of others and prays that the Lord might make it possible to be there in person again to minister to the Thessalonians.
There are many people in our lives needing help, longing for a companion in this long and pain-filled journey of life. Are we apostles? No, but we are endowed by God with certain gifts to be used for the benefit of those around us. May God grant us the grace to pray and then act serving as a part of the answer to our own prayer.