A Prayer Observed
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
From time to time we get to overhear one of Paul’s prayers. This gives us a glimpse of the shape of his theology and his affection for his friends.
Look at this prayer …
… your love … he wants their love to grow. This is the focal point of his prayer.
… may about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight … love is more than an emotion. Paul wants their love to be grounded in reality and woven into their minds. He doesn’t pull them away from their reason and rationality, but instead longs to see them integrate their love with their knowledge. As they know Christ better, they’ll love him more.
… so that … he’s praying for a purpose!
… you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ … Paul anticipates that love that continues to grow in knowledge will lead to a certain way of life, a way of life that honors Jesus. Paul isn’t just interested in abstract ideas, just as he isn’t interested in ungrounded emotionalism. He wants their faith to connect with action. And he prays accordingly.
… filled with the fruit of righteousness … he isn’t focused as much on what he wants them to avoid. Instead, he’s excited about what they will experience if their love matures. Like Paul, God is more concerned with what he wants forus than with what he wants from us.
… that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God … all of the goodness that Paul wants to blossom in the lives of his friends he knows will have Jesus as its single-origin and the glory and praise of God as its ultimate destiny. He depends on God to make it happen.
Take some time today to write out a brief prayer for someone else. Offer it up to the Lord. Then, if you dare, circle back and ask yourself: “what does this prayer show me about the way I think about God and feel about this person for whom I’m praying?”