Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Prayer Worth Imitating

One of the reasons God saved us is that we might be fruitful Christians. He has not saved us merely that we might be free from judgment and go to heaven when we die. He saved us that the "character of Jesus Christ might be reproduced in us while here on earth" (James Montgomery Boice, Philippians, p.45).We are to live in the flesh but not of the flesh. We are to do good works that Christ might be glorified and that many might be brought to faith in Him. Ephesians 2:10 sums it up when it says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.quot; In other words, there is a goal set for our lives. We are to "walk in" good works." Or in the words of Philippians 1:11 we are to be "filled with the fruits of righteousness.
Now in Philippians 1:9-11 we see the kind of love that Paul had for the Philippians. He was moved with a desire to pray for their spiritual growth. Most prayers today do not have a hint of spirituality. They are merely mundane -- careless with the spiritual welfare of others. But that's not true for Paul. quot;The primary focus of his prayers was on the spiritual welfare of othersquot; (John MacArthur, Philippians, p.38). Notice what he prays in Philippians 1:9-11:9
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Php 1:9-12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

In these three verses Paul prayed for abounding love (v.9), approving love (v.10a) and abiding love (vv.10b-11). Each of these requests focused on the needs of the Philippians. There are many things we pray for that we don't need but that's not true when you consider what Paul is praying in these verses. His prayer says we need for our love to abound still more and more. We need to approve the things that are excellent and we need to be sincere and without offense until the day of Jesus Christ.

Begin today being the answer to Paul's prayer and allow your prayers to focus on the spiritual rather than the physical.

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