We all have people who are near and dear to us, ones we carry in our hearts and want the very best for. My office is filled with pictures of my family; they’re always on my mind even when I’m not with them. People often ask, how do I pray for those I love? Our prayers are refined and focused during crises, but what about “regular” days – how do we pray for our family and friends? Philippians 1:2-11 begins with God’s grace and peace, and ends with His glory and praise: Paul gives a great template for the types of things which are on God’s heart…and should be on ours, as well.
In describing how he prays for the Philippians, he first notes how thankful he is for these believers and the joy they bring him. And by his comments, in all my prayers and I always pray, it is clear that Paul understands the long term commitment that prayer is. He expresses confidence in God’s work of grace. He assures them that he carrying them in his heart and longs for them with Christ’s affection. How powerful our prayers would be when offered in this spirit!
As for what Paul prays, let’s highlight five main focuses…
1) Ever increasing AGAPE love. Paul told the Galatians that the only thing that counts is faith working itself out in love. Isn’t this how others know we follow Jesus – that we love one another? Pray that Christ would be fully formed in your loved ones, so they would be known for loving God and others. Only God can transform us to love our enemies and those who are annoying…right?
2) Agape love which is tempered, matured, and perfected through knowledge and depth of insight. Blind love is not Christian love. Here is the great balancing act: be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Pray that your loved ones deepen their knowledge of Christ without getting puffed up, so they gain a heart of wisdom.
3) Discernment. Knowledge and insight, conditioned in love, yields the ability to know right from wrong while serving Christ effectively. Discernment means knowing the devil’s schemes and how to wield the weapons of spiritual warfare. How important it is for young people especially to know the enemy’s schemes and flee temptation and questionable practices!
4) Overflowing fruit of righteousness. When we live lives characterized by the first three points listed above, the fruit of the Spirit will be highly visible in our lives. When I pray for my kids, I want others to see Christ very, very clearly in them.
5) God’s glory and praise. That is, that our lives will reflect His glory and cause others to praise Him! Isn’t that the essence of life? To know Him and make Him known. God’s love being developed within us, making Christ visible and attractive to others.
Prayer is so crucial and yet sometimes it’s challenging to know what or how to pray. Check out other prayers in Scripture, such as Ephesians 1:15-23 and Colossians1:9-14. May we all grow in our knowledge and practice of prayer, and may others be strengthened and supported by our prayers for them.
- Pastor Colin