Philippians 1:9-11: Pray Like Paul
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God.”
I just realized, after years of reading the Bible and this text in Philippians many times, that pretty much the whole first 11 verses of Chapter 1 is a long prayer.
I mean, not like we would pray but a prayer nevertheless. Have you ever written out your prayers? I have. Maybe Paul is on to something here. Anyways, as I was reading over this again for this article and realized it was a prayer, it opened up the text a bit for me. I’d like for us to consider Paul’s prayer here and what he is asking for on behalf of the church in Philippi. I think we’ll find it instructive for us today as His Church wherever we find ourselves.
I find 6 specific things Paul prayed for here. Let’s look at each of them briefly. Paul prayed that:
1.God’s people would be loving. Look at the beginning of verse 9…” it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…”
Far too often, those who claim the name of Christ are known more for what they are against than what they are for. We are also famous for our in-fighting. Far be it from us as God’s people to fight and quarrel over silly things. I’m not saying there aren’t things that need to be fought for. The inerrancy of Scripture, Jesus’ finished work on our behalf, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, and other things; crucial and foundational doctrines that need to be fought for and believed in firmly.
But we are to be a people marked by love. First and foremost we are marked by God’s love toward us in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). God’s unmerited love toward us, the Spirit’s regenerative work in our hearts and Christ’s death, burial and resurrection on our behalf should cause us to love one another as a worship response to what God has done for us. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
Let us pray, brothers and sisters, that our love for one another would grow and that God’s people would be loving.
2.Our love would be grounded in knowledge and discernment.
Our love for each other is not to be some sort of silly, frivolous emotional feeling. Listen, if you’ve spent any time around humans, you know that eventually, someone is going to get on your nerves. And that includes the members of the body of Christ.
Am I the only one that finds certain people to just be weird, hard to be around? Maybe I’m the one who’s weird and hard to be around but nonetheless, we are all broken in some way. My point is that our love for each other isn’t to be “love” as the world sees it. Our love is not a blind love but rather a love that is grounded in the knowledge of the character of God and therefore who we are. Because we are God’s children, His character in us produces or should produce, knowledge and good judgment.
3.That God’s people would be wise.
Look at verse 10, “that you may approve what is excellent..” How do we approve what is excellent? How do we even know what is excellent? I’ve seen lots of things in the world today that is not excellent. So how do we know what is excellent?
Well, if we are Christians, we know what is excellent by what God says is excellent. And how do we know what God finds excellent? We know because He has told us in His Word.
God has spoken. Think about that for a second. The God of the Bible, the Creator, and Sustainer of all things has spoken. He has condescended to us and spoken so that we may know Him and serve Him rightly. He has shown us who He is. His wisdom is written down for us. We can be wise by knowing Him and His Word (Philippians 4:8-9 comes to mind). And we can be wise by knowing His Son whom He has sent to be our Redeemer. Let us be wise, Church.
4.That God’s people would be pure and blameless.
I wonder if we ever pray that God would purify His Church? Do you? I’m not sure I’ve ever prayed for that. But here’s what I see going on in the world today. I believe that God is purifying His Church. Those who are truly of the faith are moving farther and farther away from the world and there are parts of the “church” that are staying in lock step with our culture. Let us pray that God would purify His Church.
As a bride comes to her groom pure, unstained and blameless for her wedding day, so Christ’s bride is to be pure for His wedding day.
5.That God’s people would be fruitful.
You don’t go to an apple tree to pick lemons. So if we are to be the people of God, let us pray that we would produce fruits of righteousness. And what are those you may ask?
The world will know us by our fruit. The fruits of righteousness are evidence of our sanctification. In other words, are we, God’s people, marked by true worship of our Triune God and the holiness He brings by His Spirit or do we look just like our pagan culture? And how do these fruits come to us?
Only by turning to Christ can these fruits be in our churches and in our lives. Let us turn to Christ and bear fruits of righteousness!
6.That God would be glorified by His people.
The world can know God by His Word and by His people. Let us be a people who bring glory to God and not ourselves. Soli Deo Gloria!
Do you pray like this? If I’m honest, I don’t. Not often anyway.
May we be God’s praying people who are loving, grounded in the knowledge of Him who has saved us, wise in His ways, pure and blameless before the return of our King, fruitful for His kingdom while giving all glory and honor to Him who has bought us with His blood!