~by Randy Bushey
To Paul, saying “I’ll pray for you about that” was never a thoughtless, throw-away line. When the Apostle told the Philippian Christians that he prayed for them, (I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel – Philippians 1:4,5) he really meant it!
Paul prayed with passion, with insight, and with detailed pastoral concern.
If we want to learn to pray like Paul, the first step is to analyze the content of his prayers. I memorize Paul’s prayers, so I can pray them to the Lord about the people I love.
His example in Philippians chapter 1 takes 20 seconds to read or recite. It contains 4 significant links:
Link#1: Paul’s concern was for an ever-increasing evidence of love in their lives. Think of a cup under the faucet that begins to fill – half, three-quarters, nearing the brim, then overflowing. Paul was asking God to have this occur, by the power of the Spirit, in the lives of these Christ-followers at Philippi.
Link#2: Rather than being superficial, sentimental affection, Paul wanted their love to contain knowledge – having clear understanding of Who God is, and therefore who we are as the recipients of His grace.
Link#3: Paul knew that knowledge alone breeds arrogance. His request for the church was for knowledge to be accompanied by depth of insight, that they would be able to discern. And this is essential! Authentic love must sometimes be tough love. Confrontative. Challenging. In-your-face actioned concern. But it takes godly insight and discernment to know when to play that role in the life of someone you love…and when to remain silent. Real love requires Spirit-supplied wisdom: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).
Link #4: Our day is characterized by the claim that all morality is relative – that the individual should determine their own boundaries of right and wrong. That’s ethical relativism with a vengeance! And it doesn’t work. But against the backdrop of a dark culture in the 1st century – equally murky in the 21st – Paul was concerned about believers being intentional about purity and blamelessness – the fruit of righteousness. A Christ-ward commitment to live a life worthy of the calling you have received (Ephesians 4:1).
That 4-linked chain in the life of a believer reflects the glory of God, making visible His invisible Kingdom.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).
~image from Ryan Forkel, freeimages.com