Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Pray for Your Friends . . . Part 2

How to Pray for Your Friends . . . Part 2
Philippians 1:9-11 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.

In our last devotion we looked at the emphasis that Paul placed on praying for his friends in Philippi. We witnessed that Paul prayed that their love may grow even more, because it will be the love of Christ followers that will change the hearts of the people of this world. Paul also mentioned that he prayed that his friends would grow in knowledge and discernment. He desires them to grow because he wants them to experience an authentic Christian life -- he wants them to experience the wonderful journey of faith that God has laid out before them.

In this installment we are going to look at the final three things that Paul prayed for his friends, and we will see that if we apply these truths to our own prayer life not only will we develop a rich prayer talk with our Lord, we will start seeing the Lord blessing our friends and the world will see the fruit of an authentic Christian walk.

The third thing Paul prayed for was subtle but vital in the life of a Christ-follower. Paul says, “that you may approve the things that are excellent”. So many times in our lives we will put up with, tolerate, endure, and accept lower standards. Whether it is tolerating wrong behavior from ourselves or others, or turning our eyes, plugging our ears, and stopping our noses in order to make life more copasetic and make sure we don’t rock the boat. Paul says we need to “approve the things that are excellent,” which means we need to make sure we recognize and live by standards (God’s standards). This standard is for the Christ-follower first and foremost, you cannot diagnose someone else or a situation when you are sick…Paul was praying that his friends eyes would be open to the good stuff, that only comes from God, and prayed they wouldn’t settle for the lowest common denominator.  

The forth thing that Paul prayed for his friends was that they “may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ”. What he is praying is that they be real and not fake. I believe nothing in this world turns people away from having faith in Jesus like fake Christians. People who label themselves as something they are not. These may be people who crawl into churches and positions for their own gain. On the outside they speak wonderful words but they are willing to hurt, tear, lie, and manipulate people to get the things they lust after; power, notoriety, prestige, even business connections. These wolves say anything to get their way. The problem is that the church has been filled with people like this since the beginning. They destroy the witness of those genuine and authentic Christ-followers. Paul was praying that his friends would live authentic lives and that their lives, when examined buy the world, would not be offensive to the people they are trying to minister to.

Finally Paul ends his list with the powerful statement, “being filled with the fruits of righteousness.” He prayed that his friends would display the “fruits” of people who were close with Jesus. Righteousness is only a byproduct of people who abide in Christ. Paul was praying (making sure) that his friends would be equipped to change this world for Jesus Christ. If you want to do something great for God, or change this world in such a radical way as to make your faith real to this world, it will only happen if you are filled with the fruit of righteousness.

As you pray for your friends and yourself apply these principles that Paul used. You will see dramatic changes in your prayer life and in the lives of your friends. You will start seeing them radically changing this world for Jesus Christ. There is no limit to the power of prayer. God is waiting to hear from you.

God’s Blessings and with Love,
Pastor Jay

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