Overcoming the Hurdles from: The Praying With Paul devotional (link at bottom)
Many Christians thank God in good times, pray urgently in hard times, and forget to pray in busy times.
It may strike us as strange that the apostle Paul overflows with thanksgiving and prayers for other people while he is confined to a dingy, dark Roman prison cell.
Even in the most challenging and uncertain personal circumstances, Paul expresses his deep gratitude and joy to God for the believers’ partnership in the gospel and his unflagging confidence that the Sovereign God will finish the good work He began in their lives.
Paul’s short prayer in Philippians 1 can help us overcome our spiritual dryness and excuses for prayerlessness. The gospel should:
- define our relationships with other Christians and
- guide our priorities in prayer.
Paul perseveres in joyful prayer for the Philippians even while in prison because of his gospel partnership with them, his heartfelt love for them, and his unshakable faith that God will finish the good work He has begun in their lives.
In verses 3-8 Paul prayed for the Philippians with:
- gratitude and
- constant joy.
and why he prayed this way for them:
- their gospel partnership,
- God’s faithful work, and
- Paul’s heartfelt love.
Verses 9-11 explain what specifically Paul petitioned God for:
- the content and
- aim of his intercession for
- these beloved believers.
Paul’s aims in this prayer for abounding love,
“So that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
What does it mean to “approve what is excellent?” Paul uses the same phrase in Romans 2:18, where he says to the Jews that they,
“Know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law.”
Then in Romans 12:2 we read,
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
So, we see that excellence is defined by God’s standards and accords with,
“Knowing God’s perfect will. Approving what is excellent flows from abounding love for other people. Love seeks what is excellent, what is best, for another person.“
Paul’s prayer encourages us to overcome the obstacle of perfectionism and self-fulfillment by re-focusing our attention on “what is excellent” (Phil. 1:10) according to God’s standards.
We will “approve what is excellent” (v. 10) when our hearts, minds, and entire value systems are reordered around God’s purposes in Christ.
Prayer provides us with the daily opportunity to root ourselves in God and love others out of the overflow of that time with God.
May we all spend some more time with our thoughts on God’s will, His ways. A priority we truly can’t live without.
He is always right where we are.
Every time that I think about you, I thank my God because of you. I am always praying for you. Every time that I pray for you, I feel very happy. I am happy because together we tell people the good news about Christ. You have always helped me with that work, since the first day that you yourselves heard the good news. I know that God has begun to do good things in you. And I am sure that he will continue to work in you. Then, on the day when Jesus Christ returns, his work in you will be finished. It is right for me to feel like this about all of you, because I love you very much. God has been very kind to all of us. Because you know that, you have continued to help me. You have helped me while I have been here in this prison. You also helped me when I was free and I could teach the good news. I explained to people why the good news is God’s true message. Together, we have known how kind God is. God knows that I very much want to be with all of you. I love you very much, just like Christ Jesus himself loves you.
This is what I pray for you.
I pray that you will continue to love each other more and more. I pray that you will know God better and better. I pray that you will understand all those things that are true. Then you will be able to choose what is best in the way that you live. Then, on the day when Christ returns, you will be completely clean. You will not be guilty of any bad thing. Because of the work that Jesus Christ has done in you, you will be right with God. And your lives will be full of good things. As a result, people will praise God and they will say that HE is very great.
Philippians 1:3-11 EASY
This was day 5 of 8, the @YouVersion plan ‘Praying With Paul’. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/2zq