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 for 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 (NIV)
Read: Philippians 1:3-11
Consider: Have you ever been stuck when praying for another Christian, not knowing what to pray for? It can be quite daunting, as often we don’t know their personal circumstances well enough to pray knowledgeably about their situation. You should not let this put you off praying for them. Even if you don’t know about their physical needs, you can pray about their spiritual needs.
In today’s passage from Philippians 1, the Apostle Paul tells us: I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:3-6). If praying for others has become burdensome to you, you need to ask God to change your attitude so that you can pray with thanksgiving and joy.
Later in today’s passage Paul moves on to what he specifically prays for each of the believers in Philippi. He starts off with: And this is my prayer (1:9). This should leave the Philippians in no doubt about what Paul prays for them. He prays that:
- their love may abound (1:9);
- they may be able to discern what is best (1:10);
- they may be pure and blameless (1:10);
- they may be filled with the fruit of righteousness (1:11).
Of course while Paul would have been interested in their physical welfare, he would have been doubly interested in their spiritual welfare. When you pray for others, do you concentrate upon asking for their physical needs to be met, while failing to pray for their spiritual needs? God wants us to pray for a person’s physical needs, but also to pray for their spiritual needs.
Notice that Paul prays for these things to be evident in the lives of his fellow-believers, not to bring glory to himself, or to the believers, but ‘… to the glory and praise of God’ (1:11). Any of these things that appear in our and other people’s lives are only achievable because of the work of the Holy Spirit. They are proof to the world and other believers that God is at work in a person’s life, changing that person to become more Christlike.
Don’t hold back on your prayers for others, but seek to get the balance right between asking God for their physical and spiritual needs to be met. To do otherwise is to have a skewed view of what God desires for his children, thus leading us into a prayer life that lacks spiritual awareness.
Pray: Father, forgive us for so often praying for people’s physical needs, while neglecting to pray for their spiritual needs. May their spiritual health and welfare be first and foremost in our prayers, asking you to fill their lives with the fruit of righteousness. Amen
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