I often think of the common child’s prayer: “bless Mom, bless Dad, bless my friends, bless my teacher, …” Now as adults, we can make a much better sounding prayer, with much more more spiritual words. However, how often do we really think about what we are saying when we pray for others? What do we pray for?
I am encouraged to pause when reading the Bible when it covers a specific prayer or prayer requests. How often do our prayer requests model these precedents in Scripture?
Paul starts the letter to the Philippians with a prayer of encouragement:
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
In this prayer of encouragement, these are some of the specific requests made on behalf of the Philippian Christians:
- “That your love may abound still more and more” – That their love (agape) would grow in abundance; more than enough
- “real knowledge” – That their love would be anchored in understanding and in the Truth of Scripture.
- “all discernment” – Also translated as “depth of insight”, that their love would show an understanding of what is good.
- “approve the things that are excellent” – That that they would evaluate things for what has real value
- “sincere” – lit. “without wax”; illustrating broken pottery that was repainted for a cheap sale. The prayer for them is that their love and discernment would produce in them a pure faith without secret agendas or motives.
- “blameless” – that they would give no cause for offense; have no legitimate accusations against them
- “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” – recognizing that the only source of them being able to accomplish this was their salvation in Christ, and his ongoing work in them.
- “to the glory and praise of God” – the ultimate goal was for God’s glory in everything.
May we include this in our prayers for others.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)