What lessons can we learn from Paul when he prays for the Philippian church? How should we learn to pray like him? What does he spend most of his time praying for from a roman prison cell? He doesn’t focus on his own needs, or even ask for prayers for himself. His prayers revolve around the needs of others.
“And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in 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 HCSB
In this passage Paul begins his letter to the church of Philippi with a prayer. Now, this is not your typical Sunday morning small group prayer. Rather than praying for safe travels, the health of a fellow believer’s cat, or the infamous “unspoken,” Paul prays in a way that is both selfless and keenly biblical.
He prays for the Philippian believers’ spiritual growth, and in doing this he models for us what our prayers should look like. His prayer is especially striking as Paul is writing this letter from a Roman prison cell. Instead of asking for prayer for his deliverance, he prays for the growth and sanctification of the church. The example of Paul’s prayer should revolutionize the way we pray for one another, especially for those in our churches.
Paul Prays for Results
Paul prays specifically for four results in the lives of the Philippian believers. He prays that the Philippians would grow in love through knowledge, that they would live a life of maturity and discernment, that they would be found pure and blameless at the return of Christ, and that their lives would be marked by the fruit of righteousness that comes from being in a relationship with Jesus.
In a nutshell, Paul prays for their spiritual growth with the end in mind. His desire is to see believers grow and live up to their full potential so that when they stand before God, they would be found to have lived a life pleasing to Him.
How Should We Pray
Likewise, our prayers should be the same. We must pray selflessly, even in difficult circumstances, for the spiritual well-being of those in our churches. This week set out to pray that those in your church would grow in love and maturity, that they might be found pure and blameless at the return of Christ, having lived a life marked by the fruit of righteousness.
Lord, right now I want to lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ to You. I pray that their love for You and for others would abound in their knowledge of You. May they grow to be mature believers, so that at Your return they would be found blameless in Your sight. I also ask that You would enable them to live a life that bears fruit for Your glory. Amen.
- What are some examples of spiritually shallow or selfish prayers?
- How does knowing Paul’s circumstance change how you think about prayer?
- Who can you pray for this week? Write out a list of at least five people.
- How is growth in love connected to knowledge and discernment?
- Why is praying for the growth of others important for church growth and health?
- How should knowing that Christ will someday return change how you pray for people?
- How does praying for others’ spiritual growth glorify God?
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This is part of Devotable's book Prayer: Approaching the Throne of Grace. If you're interested in learning more about this book, please click below.
My name is Corbin Henderson. I am a student at Spurgeon College and a pastor at the First Baptist Church of Ash Grove. I am married to the love of my life Heaven.