Paul Prays for the Perfection of His Ministry Partners, Part 2 (Philippians Sermon 3 of 24)
September 21, 2003 | Andy Davis
Pray for What is Certain
We are looking at Philippians chapter one. We’re going to focus on verse 9-11. The section of Scripture that was read this morning, verse 3-11, includes an example of Paul’s prayer life. Here Paul prays for the perfection of those who are in ministry partnership with him. He’s praying for the perfection of the Philippian Christians, and here we come to the essential, mysterious nature of our faith. Paul has absolute confidence, un-shakable confidence, that the God who began the good work in the Philippians will most certainly carry it on to perfection in the day of Christ Jesus. He is absolutely confident about that. There’s no doubt in his mind, (now I’m going to speak in the human way, the way I think) and yet he prays. Now, I say “and yet” because that’s the way we think, right? Well, if something is absolutely certain, if God’s already said he’s going to do it, there’s no doubt about it. It’s guaranteed. What do we need to pray for? Why do we need to be involved in that? And so we think, “It’s absolutely certain, and yet he prays,” as though those two things didn’t go together; but they do go together. The apostle Paul prays for what is absolutely certain. He asks God to do what he’s already determined to do. And this is exactly what Jesus is doing right now for you if you’re a child of God. He is praying to his Heavenly Father to complete his purpose in your life. Is there any doubt in Jesus’ mind about whether that will happen? None at all, and yet, speaking in that human way, He prays for you all the time.
I would want to turn the whole thing around this morning and say, “And therefore he prays.” Not, “And yet he prays.” “Therefore he prays because it’s absolutely guaranteed. Therefore he prays because it’s in the will of God. Therefore he prays because God has said this is what he’s going to do.” May all prayers outside of God’s will be swept away like chaff. They’re worthless, they’re meaningless. Why should we pray anything but what God has willed? And so it is our desire to pray in accordance with what God is doing, and God is revealing it to us by his will. We need to pray, and we need to pray more spiritually than we do. We pray too earthly, don’t we? We need to pray more spiritually like the apostle Paul does.
In 1742, during the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards was sifting through all of the effects of that great revival. Revivals are exciting and we continue to receive from one of you, anonymously, a prayer for revival. Keep it coming and keep praying for us, that God would pour out His Spirit. It’s a wonderful thing. But there’s a lot of upheaval that comes at times like that, and a lot of uncertainty as people are responding emotionally and people’s lives are being turned upside down, and it’s hard to know always what is really happening there. Has somebody, for example, really been converted to Christ or are they just going through the show on the outside? And so He’s dealing with the issue between those that are genuinely converted and those that are gospel hypocrites. And He zeros in on this matter of prayer, and it’s a very interesting thing. I came across this sermon when I was in Japan and the title alone stuck me; Hypocrites Deficient In Private Prayer, that’s the title of the sermon. Hypocrites Deficient In Private Prayer, and this is what he says: “I would exhort those who have entertained a hope of there being true converts, and yet, since their supposed conversion, have left off the duty of secret prayer and do ordinarily allow themselves in the omission of it to throw away their hope. If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are children of God. Probably, it will be a very difficult thing for you to do this. It is hard for a man to let go of a hope of Heaven on which he has once allowed himself to lay hold and which he has retained for a considerable time. True conversion is a rare thing. But that men are brought off from a false hope of conversion after they are once settled and established in it and have continued in it for some time is much more rare still.”
Now, what is he doing? He is just being a physician of the soul under the leadership of God, saying, “If you don’t pray at all in your private prayer closet, you are not truly a Christian because this is something that God works when he truly saves you.” But I began to think about the title more, and I thought if we could go back in time and talk to the esteemed and humble Mr. Edwards and say, “Mr. Edwards, is your prayer life everything you would like it to be? Do you pray always according to God’s will? Do you pray with the fervency and the passion and the faith that you should,” he would say, “No. I also am deficient in private prayer.”
Paul, Our Tutor
So I stand under that today as well. I find myself deficient in private prayer. I pray. I pray all the time. I pray daily. I enjoy prayer. But I am deficient in private prayer. And I want to learn more about it. I want to pray better than I do. And I don’t think you can come to a better mentor and teacher than the Apostle Paul. We’re sitting under his tutelage this morning. We’re going to learn from him how to pray. We’re going to learn from him. And we began last week in three steps.
We looked at the first step, namely the character of Paul’s prayer life in verse 3-8. This morning, with God’s help, we’re going to complete the three-step look at Paul’s prayers here; at the content of Paul’s prayer life, and also the goal of Paul’s prayer life:
1) The Character of Paul’s Prayer Life (verses 3-8)
2) The Content of Paul’s Prayer Life (verses 9-11a)
3) The Goal of Paul’s Prayer Life (verse 11b)
I. The Character of Paul’s Prayer Life (verses 3-8)
First, by way of review, in verses 3-8, we have the character of Paul’s prayer life. We looked at this last week, and we saw eight features:
Thankfulness, for example, in verse 3, “I thank my God every time I remember you,” that also brought us to remembrance that he was constantly remembering, was other-centered in that regard. We see, thirdly, the constancy or the consistency of Paul. He says, “Every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” There is a repetition here, a sense of constancy. He doesn’t pray just once, but he prays all the time. And fourth, he prays with joy. There is a great joy in his prayer life; not drudgery, but a sense of delight in being a partner with God and what God is doing in the lives of the Philippians. And the reasons why he prays for them- he’s not an unreasoning prayer man, but he has joy for a reason and he prays for a reason. And what are those reasons? Well, the fellowship or the partnership. He saw himself as a partner with God and what God was doing in the life of the Philippians, just as they were partners with him financially, they’d given him money, and what he was doing in his ministry. And then we also see confidence. Being confident of this, “That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I almost can’t say that verse enough. Doesn’t it delight you to know that God doesn’t quit on us, but he continues to work until his purposes are complete, until we are perfect? And then finally we saw affection, verse 7 and 8. “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart, for whether I am in chains or defending or confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Verse 8, “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” The affectionate relationship he had with them and so it flowed out into prayer.
II. The Content of Paul’s Prayer Life (verses 9-11a)
So that was the character of Paul’s prayer life last time, but now we have to look at content and we need to be instructed in this matter of content, the Bible tells us so. It says so. It says in Romans 8:26, “In the same way the spirit helps us in our weakness; we don’t know what to pray for.” There it is. Well, don’t be insulted by that, it’s true of us all. We don’t know what to pray for. We want to pray, we have the spirit of adoption within us, we cry out, “Abba Father,” but now give us some prayer work to do. Tell us what we can pray for because we can’t think of what it should be.
We need help in this matter of the content of our prayer life. We need to be instructed. If left to ourselves, we will pray for what we ought not to pray for. We’ll even pray for things that we can spend on our carnal pleasures. In James chapter 4, “When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” So we need to be instructed. And why? Because we want a fruitful prayer life. We want to pray for things that God wants to do. We want to pray for things that will result in an abundant harvest of fruit to the glory of God. That’s what we want to pray for because it says in 1 John 5, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we ask of Him. I want that kind of a prayer life. So I need to be instructed by Paul what to pray for, and that’s what he does here in verse 9 through 11a, “And this is my prayer,” he says. “This is what I pray for so that you will know how I’m praying for you. 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 until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”
And so we can learn what we should be praying for. A.W. Pink clears away a misunderstanding about prayer for us in this matter. “The prevailing idea,” says Pink, “seems to be that I come to God and ask him for something that I want and then I expect him to give me that which I have asked, but this is a most dishonoring and degrading conception. The popular belief reduces God to a servant, our servant, doing our bidding, performing our pleasure, granting our desires. Prayer is not intended to change God’s purpose nor is it to move him to form fresh purposes. God has decreed that certain events shall come to pass through the means he has appointed for their accomplishment. Prayer is the way and means that God has appointed for the communication of the blessings of his goodness to his people.” I think that clears it. We’re not coming to God and saying, “Here’s my idea of what would be good for you to do.” It’s not that at all, but rather we are asking that God would do his will. Martin Luther says, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of his willingness.” And God is willing to give us those things that are in concert with his purpose in his plan. So we want to pray that way. Paul here shows us what kinds of things we should be asking God for as we pray for one another.
Six requests in Paul’s prayer life
- Let’s look at the first one, it says, “Love abounding more and more,” in verse 9. He starts with their love. It’s a good place to begin because love is really the point of the gospel. Jesus said that the two great commandments, the two greatest commandments, the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, I believe the gospel enables us to obey those two great commandments. That is what the spirit is working in us, that we should love God and that we should love others. It says in 1 Timothy 1:5, “The goal of this command is love.” Our instruction in the home or in church that does not result in love has missed the point. We’re seeking to love God and to love others. And what kind of love? We should have love for God as who He really is, love for God as revealed in Scripture, love for His attributes and for His nature, for His holiness and for His perfections, for all of the attributes that are revealed in the words of Scripture. We should love God that way. We should love His plans and His purposes and what He’s doing in the world.We should love the Trinity, love for the Father, love for the Son, and love for the Holy Spirit. We should love God as he has revealed in Scripture. We should love also God’s perfect word, the way he has spoken to us. Now, if you had none of this love, you would not be a Christian. Can you see that? This is what the Holy Spirit does when you are born again. But what Paul wants is that their love, this love, what’s in them, would abound more and more; that they would love God more and more. It must increase. And not just love for God, but love for others, love for other Christians. And this prayer comes together with the purpose of God. We show a great deal of love for other Christians by joining with them in their struggles, by standing with them in their ministry, by loving them through prayer. And also, love for the lost. Love for God, love for other Christians, and love for the lost, that we should have a passion for those who are lost and that this love must increase, that it must abound more and more, that there be within your heart a rich feast of love. Not a scanty amount, not a scrap from the table, but abundance in love; love abounding more and more; a dynamic; a great increase. In 1 Thessalonians 4, the apostle Paul speaking to the Thessalonian Christians there says this, he says, “Now, about brotherly love, we do not need to write to you for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And, in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more, more and more. ” You already have love for God. Love Him more. You already have love for others, love for your brothers, love for the lost. love them more. That’s his first prayer.
- Secondly, he prays for knowledge and for depth of insight. Now, this brings us to an interesting discussion in the Christian life. Have you ever heard the discussion between head knowledge and heart knowledge - head knowledge and heart knowledge?. I feel sorry for head knowledge. It’s always in the short end of that discussion. Oh, it was head knowledge and then suddenly, with God’s grace, it became heart knowledge, as though head knowledge is something you’re embarrassed about, something that should be hidden away at a family reunion or something like that. “We don’t want head knowledge, what we really want is heart knowledge.” Can I tell you something? I don’t believe anything ever gets to be heart knowledge without first being head knowledge, that’s the way God has set it up. It comes in through our minds, but the issue is it mustn’t just be intellectual knowledge like you could write on a test. And so we have a beautiful combination, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. That’s the combination of the head and the heart so beautifully; right doctrine and passion for Christ and for others. This is what He’s praying for. He wants them to know a lot. He really does. He wants them to study the Bible, he wants them to be expert theologians, he wants them to know the plans and purposes of God, he wants them to be able to ace a theology exam. These are good things, but if all you have is that kind of what we have called head knowledge without any passion or love for God, you’re nothing more than a Pharisee, really. And if, on the other hand, you have all this gushy, overwhelming passion, but you don’t know the first thing doctrinally, it may be that you’re an idolater, frankly. You worship what you do not know. Jesus talked about this in John 4, “We need to worship in spirit and in truth, with passion and with the knowledge of the God that we really love.” And so He prays that their love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. The word here “knowledge” is epignosis; a deep personal knowledge. Yes, knowledge about God, yes, but also knowledge of Him personally. And so He wants this for them.
- Thirdly, He prays for discernment. This is a word that is related to aesthetics. Aesthetics. He wants them to be able to discern. Look in verse 9 and 10: “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.” The result of the growth in love of knowledge is a discerning spirit. Now, discernment is a refined sensibility, kind of like the refined sense of a connoisseur. A diamond connoisseur, for example, an expert in diamonds, can look at a diamond and know its color and its cut and clarity and everything just by looking at it. He can discern the quality of the diamond because he’s an expert. He can discern. An expert in art can tell the difference between a Rembrandt and a forgery, he knows what to look for. He studied the brush strokes and the kind of paint that Rembrandt used and the kind of materials. And maybe not right away, but he can discern the difference between an authentic Rembrandt and a forgery. So we also are called to be discerning. We’re called to have a refinement of discernment. Now, what are we to discern? First, we are to discern good from evil, discernment of good from evil. It says in Hebrews 5:14, “Solid food is for the mature who, by constant use, have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” So by constantly taking in the Word of God, meditating on it, reflecting on it, learning, listening to good sermons, going to good Sunday school classes, reading good books, just flooding your mind with the truth of God, you will be able to discern the difference between good and evil. For example, false doctrine will just jump out to you. You will just know that it’s false. You won’t be tossed to and fro like an immature Christian who can’t tell the difference between sound doctrine and false. It’s a mark of spiritual maturity to be able to discern the difference between good and evil in doctrine, but also in lifestyle to tell what is good and what is pure and right from what is evil. But that is really just the beginning; we also have to discern not just good from evil, but excellent from good. Excellent from good, it says in verse 10, “So that you may be able to discern what is best”, the word is excellent there. New American Standard has it this way, Philippians 1:10, “So that you may approve the things that are excellent.” I like that translation. Not just that we would be able to know what’s excellent, but from our hearts approve it, put our stamp of approval and say, “That’s what I want in my life. I want what’s excellent.” Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is that good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” So as you flood your mind with scripture, you understand the Word of God better, you will be able to discern the difference between what is excellent and what is merely good. So many of the hardest decisions in the Christian life come between what is good and what is excellent. At the beginning of the year, the ministerial staff here put out top 10 ministry priorities. That was quite a discussion to get it down to 10. There were so many things we could be doing as a church. First of all, that we would even have a list of 10, that was a matter of discernment. “Should we do that or should we just do everything?” Well, after a while, you realize, “You can’t do everything. We’re limited, and so we need to concentrate.” That was a matter of discernment, that we should concentrate. And the next, “What should we concentrate on? Why this and not that? Both of them were good things, but we chose to go in this direction.” Sometimes in Missiology, the study of missions, there’s a big discussion on where the labor should go. “Should they go to where there is revival and lots of people coming to Christ? Should we just throw workers in there? Or should we have a uniform approach all over the world?” Some believe one way and some another. It’s not a difference between what’s good and evil, but between what is excellent, what is really lined up with the Word of God and with his will, and what is merely good, and so Paul prays for that kind of discernment.
- Fourthly, he prays also for purity of life. The outcome of an abundance of love and knowledge and deep insight, it says in verse 10, “So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” Now, the word pure there means literally tested by the sunlight. Realize that the most powerful light the first century folks had was the sunlight, and so they might take a glass jar of a fluid and hold it up and be able to see if there were impurities. It was tested by the sun. Sunlight, and that’s what this word means. Sincere, free of any mixture or any pollution, that you may be pure. A good word for this is holy, that you may be holy. God intends that you live a holy life. Not just that you have all this knowledge and these emotions, but that you actually put sin to death, that you be holy as he is holy. He wants you to be blameless, and Paul says in Acts 24:16, “I always take pains to have a clear conscious toward God and toward men.” Paul wants them to have a holy life so he is praying for this.
- Fifthly, he prays also for perseverance so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. Now, this phrase “until the day of Christ” means until you stand face to face before Jesus Christ on judgment day. I really think it’s one of the primary roles of a preacher or a pastor when teaching the word is to keep judgment day in front of the people all the time, just to remind you that it is appointed unto man to die once and then face judgment. And it’s coming for us all, all of us are going to judgment day. And if you are a Christian, you will be delivered from God’s wrath through him on that day, but you will stand before him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. You will give an account of yourself to Christ, and so Paul wanted them to think about that and that they would persevere in holiness, that they would keep walking with Christ until the day of Christ. Now, part of that is our responsibility, but if it were left to ourselves, we would lose. Do you realize how powerful are the demonic force of evil around you all the time? And so we need protection, don’t we? We need prayer. We need to pray for each other. If you are struggling with sin, if you are having a hard time, find somebody you can trust and say, “Pray for me in this area that I would persevere in holiness until the day of Christ.” Don’t go it alone, that’s what the church is for. Perseverance right until the end.
- He also prayed, sixthly, for their fruitfulness. It says, “Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” Now, it is so important you understand this. The moment you come to Christ, the moment you have faith in Jesus, you are clothed with a perfect righteousness. It’s what we call justification. You are clothed with the imputed, the gift of righteousness though Jesus Christ. Perfect righteousness. Look for a minute at Philippians 3, VERSE 9, turn over and look at it. Paul says there that he wants to gain Christ, in verse eight, and then verse nine, “And be found in him not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.” The righteousness that comes from God and is by faith, that is justification righteousness. It’s a perfect gift of righteousness that you get the moment you come to faith in Christ.
The Sanctification Calling
Now, in our study in Philippians, we’re going to see that God is calling us to an internal journey of holiness we call sanctification, and you’re going to be called to work out your salvation with fear and trembling and to become more and more like Jesus. But let me tell you something, no matter how well you do in that journey, in that battle, you will never do enough to satisfy God’s justice for judgment day. Never. And so you will, in the end, stand before Christ in justification righteousness, a gift of Christ’s perfect righteousness given to you at the moment you believed, by faith alone, a gift of perfect righteousness. And if you’re a Christian today, that’s how God sees you right now as you’re sitting there in the pew. Isn’t that wonderful? He just sees you in Christ. He sees you in His perfect righteousness. And yet He wants you to be filled with the fruit of that righteousness. He wants it to bear fruit in your life. He wants you yourself to be a righteous man or woman. He wants you to live a righteous and upright life. The fruit of righteousness, a full harvest that glorifies God, of temptations that are hard for you to say no to but you do, by faith, through the Holy Spirit, put that sin to death. He is greatly honored by that. He wants that fruit of prayers prayed for the glory of God after the pattern that we’ve been talking about this morning. You go into the room, you close the door, and you pray to your father who’s unseen and your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. He sees that righteousness, of money given to ministries or to the poor when the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing, just by faith to honor Him. He wants that fruit of righteousness, of evangelism and missions done to the glory of God, standing firm and proclaiming the good news to the lost so that they might have eternal life. He wants that fruit. He wants you to be filled with fruitful labor and righteousness until the day of Christ. And so this is what He yearns for, and so He’s praying for discernment for the Philippians that they would be protected negatively from all that might defile them, from false doctrines and from false practices, and then He prays positively that they will be filled to overflowing with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Isn’t that marvelous? And so we have seen, in a beautiful way, the character of Paul’s prayer life. We saw it last time. How did he carry himself in his prayers? And today, so far, we’ve seen the content. What is he praying for?
III. The Goal of Paul’s Prayer Life (verses 11b)
Finally, we’re going to see the goal of Paul’s prayer life, in verse 11B, it says, “To the glory and praise of God.”
Oh, this is so vital. It’s so important that you understand that this is Paul’s ultimate goal. Our salvation, as vital, as important as it is, is not an end in itself. Our salvation was done for the glory and praise of God, that he might be glorified by saving sinners like us. Our salvation is vitally important. This world that we live in, this physical world is delightful. The beauty of the earth and the power of hurricanes and all the things that we can see is a valuable thing, for God made it. But Jesus said that the value of one single soul is greater than the whole physical world. “For what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” So in Jesus’ hierarchy, his way of thinking, the physical world is here, a single human soul is higher than the physical world.
And let me pause here and say if you are listening to me today and you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and savior, this is the most vital moment for you because you’re confronted with the righteousness of Jesus Christ through the blood that He shed on the cross. Do you know Him as your savior? It wouldn’t profit you at all to listen to a thousand sermons and own a thousand companies and have millions and billions of dollars if you lost your soul. What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? But as vitally important as your soul is, there is something higher, and that is the glory of God, the Glory of God.
Now, I was the Southern Baptist Convention years ago in Saint Louis. Rick Warren was there speaking and he’s a very effective, energetic pastor and he’s written a book, I think is in the top 10 right now in The New York Times Best Seller list. That’s remarkable, for a pastor to write a book that makes it to the Top 10 New York Times Best Seller. He already wrote The Purpose Driven Church and now he’s making it personal, The Purpose Driven Life. I’ve heard it’s very good and I’m looking forward to reading it. I really am. Anyway, he was up there and he was talking about evangelism, very passionately, and it was very moving. And I have a very, very soft heart for evangelism, missions, and a desire to lead the lost to Christ. It’s worth living for and it’s worth dying for, it really is. He was talking about how his father on his deathbed was begging him to be active in evangelism and missions. Now, you can imagine how effective that was and moving. He showed a video clip of many people getting baptized, in slow motion even. Baptism in slow motion. As I was looking at it, I was moved and I just yearned for that in our church. I yearn to see people getting baptized here far more than they are and that you would all be faithful and effective witnesses for Christ, that is my prayer and my desire. Now, in the Southern Baptist Convention, there are microphones set up all over the auditorium for the business meetings that are going to come later. And Rick Warren, at the end of his presentation, said, “If anyone can think of a higher value than the salvation of a single soul, I want you to come to the microphone now and tell us what it is. Come on, anybody. Come and tell us what could be of a higher value than the salvation of a single soul.” I decided to stay in my seat. I didn’t think it would be in good order, but if I had gotten up, I would have said, “The glory of God.” And you know what he would have said? “Well, yes, that, of course!” But how easily we forget! How easily we reverse them. To the glory and praise of God, that’s why I’m praying, that every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father. That’s the purpose- that God would be glorified.
When we get to heaven and all of our righteous acts are revealed, they will be purified by his grace and we will have our crowns and all of our glory. We will shine like the sun in the kingdom of God and we will be glorified as Christians. We will be.
Do you realize that all of your radiance will be borrowed from Christ? All of it is his. The whole city, the New Jerusalem will be clear, so that the glory of God can permeate and move through and be beautiful and majestic. Your salvation is a glorious display of God and his attributes- his justice, his mercy, his righteousness, his compassion, his long suffering. We’re on display for God’s glory, and so also Paul is praying that the Philippians would be on display for God’s glory. To the glory and praise of God, that’s why he prays.
Christ has figured your salvation out. He’s written the book. He knows how to get you saved, and I mean saved to the uttermost. He knows how to get you all the way. He is the author and he will be the perfecter of your faith, but all of it is for the purpose of the glory and praise of God. And so, turn to the very end of this book, chapter four, verse 20, not the final word, but close, verse19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” verse 20, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Now, that is why he prays, and that is why you need to pray too; that God will be revealed, that he would be glorified.
Now, what kind of application can we take from this? First, understand Paul’s prayer life, understand his character, how he carried himself in his prayer life. Understand what he prayed for. “Well, Pastor, that sounds a lot like head knowledge.” Well, yes it is, head knowledge. Understand his prayer life. Read these things, look over them, understand them. Understand his prayer life. Understand the way he carried himself and what he prayed for, that love may abound more and more, that they would have knowledge and depth of insight, that they might be discerning, that they might have purity of life and perseverance and fruitfulness right to the end. And understand the goal, the ultimate goal of Paul’s prayer life, that God be glorified. So take in all that head knowledge, understand what prayer really is, and then ask that God would move it into your heart and transform the way you really pray. Pray this way. Pray for each other this way. I would urge you today, before you go to bed, to choose somebody that you know, another Christian, and just take their name through verse 9 through 11. For example, pray for your friend Jim, “I pray for Jim, that Jim’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that he might be able to discern what is best, and that Jim might be pure and blameless in his life, that he might be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.” You pray like that and you’re going to be changed too. It’s a transforming prayer. Pray like that.
I’ve put together a list of all of Paul’s prayers and if you come tonight, I’ll give it out to as many as... I did about a hundred copies, and what I’d like to do is actually just read over Paul’s prayers and just pray them for people. You go to prayer meetings at churches and there’s a lot of physical praying going on, and I think that’s fine because our bodies were given to us by God and we pray for people’s ailments and we pray for their surgeries and we pray for their cancer and their tumor, and we should. But someone once said, “More prayers are going out for the Saints to keep them from going to heaven than to help them along their journey spiritually to heaven.” Sooner or later, we’re going to go, and so I think it would be better for us to realize we are going to leave these bodies behind when we go to heaven, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. So let’s pray spiritually, to the glory and praise of God.