Prayer does not always come naturally. In fact, for those of us that have not been raised in praying families, it can be down right frustrating not knowing what to do when we hear about the need to have healthy prayer lives. How can we do something that we have never learned, or were never taught? We recognize the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian, but some times we fall short on the HOW and the WHAT.
The Philippian epistle helps us understand part of the WHAT to pray for when it comes to others. Paul reveals two important things that should be in the content of our prayers as he petitions the Almighty for a group of people he loves dearly.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God,” (Philippians 1:9-11, ESV).
We need to pray for people’s motivation and feelings. Paul prays that the Philippians’ “love may abound.” Love being such a crucial and foundational element to the Christian faith, it makes perfect sense for us to pray that it grow not only in our own lives but also in the lives of our fellow Christians. Love serves as the motivation that drives our actions. Paul highlights the connection of our ever-growing love to both our intellectual discernment and our emotional honesty. Pray for love.
We should continually pray that genuine motives produce the righteousness of God. Paul hints that having the proper desires produces “the fruits of righteousness.” As we study the Bible, we learn that many times it refers to the “fruit” or product of something being the evidence of the identity or inner being of someone. Christianity goes deeper than a list of do’s and don’ts. Our inner self might accept truth, but, unless that truth convicts us to change, we will not generate righteous behavior in our lives. Pray for virtuous living among God’s people.
Christians have cherished the Philippian epistle throughout the centuries as a letter that truly highlights joyful living through Jesus the Christ. Paul’s prayer for these Christians, that he “yearned” for and held close to his heart, helps us see just a sample of some of the different things we can incorporate into our prayer lives.