9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
I struggle with things like complementing, letting others know I appreciate them, and telling people I am praying for them. It is hard for me to connect on that personal level, even when I think they did a good job, when they have been helpful, and when they are actually in my prayers.
The Apostle Paul did not shy away from letting the different churches he wrote to know that they were in his prayers. He let them know, not only that he was praying for them, but exactly what he was praying on their behalf.
One example of Paul doing this is found in here in the first chapter of Philippians. What we discover here in this passage are three requests Paul offered to God for the Philippians.
- Paul prayed for a discerning passion (verse 9). Christians need to have love. According to Scripture it is by our love that people are able to see Jesus. This love cannot be a mushy sentimentality, that seeks to be nice and accepting rather than compassionate and tolerant. In order to have the right type of love we need to have wisdom. Discernment is crucial, because it is not always easy to know how to show compassion and remain true to God’s Word. I think this especially true in the United States today. The easiest thing in the world is to go along with what the world tells us is love and tolerance, but that doesn’t necessarily lead people to experience God’s love. In a politically correct saturated culture we need God’s wisdom to show us how to love the people around us.
- Paul prayed for definite priorities (verse 10). We live in a society where it is easy to lose our focus. Everything from sports to politics to daily responsibilities to church ministries can distract us from what God has truly called us to do. With all the various options that are available to us, we need God to show us what our priorities should be. It is by dedicating our lives to the priorities God has given to us that we are able to live righteous lives. When our lives are dedicated to to the right priorities we are able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7; NLT)
- Paul prayed for a delightful productivity (verse 11). The very first command God gave to people is “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). There is an expectation that God’s people will be productive, that we will work to bring about God’s will into the world. This can only happen when we have the right character. We need to constantly work to mature our faith, to rid our lives of sin, and to sacrificially love people. We can only experience this productivity, this fruitful life, through God’s help. Without the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives there is no way we can have the type of life that God desires us to live.
The example that the Apostle Paul gave shows us the type of things we need to be praying about. Remember, these requests were not for himself, but for the Christians in Philippi. It is good and proper for us to pray for these things for ourselves, and it is important to ask God to give these things to other people. One of the benefits of being part of a church family is having people who are praying for you on a regular basis.
God’s people are to be people of prayer. Not only do we lift up our needs and petitions to God, but we also intercede on the behalf of our family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t keep those prayers a secret, because people will be blessed knowing that you are by their side in prayer.
Questions to consider:
- Why do you prayer?
- What does your prayer list look like? Are you praying for people’s spiritual needs as well as their physical needs?
- Why is it a blessing to know you are being prayed for?
Outline from Sermon Seeds.