Summary: For more spiritual growth to take place in our lives, we need to pray that others may experience spiritual progress now in their spiritual life.
A PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL PROGRESS—Philippians 1:9-11
Proposition; For more spiritual growth to take place in our lives, we need to pray that others may experience spiritual progress now in their spiritual life.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge people to make progress in their spiritual life by growing more like Jesus.
The story is related of old Bro. Jones. He would get up and repeatedly testify in church services: "I’m not making much progress, but I am established." Over and over again, he would give this same testimony until i really got boring to hear him. Well, one day it rained and rained, and old Bro. Jones took his team and wagon and got a load of logs, or something that was really heavy. As he started home, he went down a road that was saturated with rain water. That road had turned into a bog, and the wheels of Bro. Jones’ wagon sunk in clear down to the wagon bed. He tried and tried, but his horses just couldn’t get that wagon unstuck. Wouldn’t you know it? The preacher happened by, and after he saw the situation, he said: "Well, Bro. Jones, I see that you are not making much progress, but you are established!"
We note that Paul has previously shared with the Philippians his deep love and continuing concern for their spiritual welfare. Paul was very thankful for the Philippians. He summarizes his joyful attitude with his praise for their constant witness by saying: "I have you in my mind" (vvs. 3-6). He was thankful for their fellowship in the Gospel. He shares his praise for their concern and love by saying: "I have you in my heart" (vvs. 7-8). He is thankful for their fearlessness in the Gospel as they shared in the Gospel ministry with Paul since their hearts were united in their love for Christ and for each other. He was especially grateful for their friendship. God’s grace had given them this place in his heart and they had evidenced their participation with him in that grace. Because of this Paul shares in his prayers for their spiritual depth and a continued growing in the Lord. He says (vvs. 9-11), “I have you in my prayers (vvs. 9-11). This is a prayer for their spiritual progress. He finds joy in remembering them to the throne of grace. Here is a deep Christian fellowship that he enjoys at the throne of grace as he prays with and for others.
Paul is praying that the believers would continue to grow. They are sure of their destiny but they should also be progressing in the faith. The Christian life is not static . . . it is growing. We experience joy as we see ourselves becoming more and more like Christ. But do you see how unusual this is? This is not the experience most Christians have. For most of us we begin our Christian life in a cloud of joy and then it gradually dissipates. By the time we have been a believer for a couple of years we are often just "going through the motions". Faith has become lifeless. That’s why Paul’s prayer is so significant for us.
What do you pray for others?
I. A PRAYER THAT CHRISTIAN LOVE MAY GROW (v. 9) “abound more and more”—A prayer for the heart—abounding love-- Therefore, Paul’s injunction means that one should be constantly conscious of one’s full depen-dence upon God. It is important in our "me centered" society to note that Paul didn’t pray for physical needs, success, or "blessing" in general (e.g., "Lord bless the saints at Philippi") in this prayer or for that matter anywhere else in his epistles. His attitude of reverential prayer for the spiritual growth of the saints should motivate all saints to be imitators of Paul for all the saints in their sphere of influence. It’s one thing to have someone in mind but quite another to have them in your prayers!
1. An appeal “And this I pray”-- A prayer for the heart—We will hear the substance of his praying and concern for them. Paul proceeds to enumer-ate the blessings which he sought for them; and it is worthy to note that he did not ask riches, or worldly prosperity, but that his supplications were confined to spiritual blessings, and he sought these as the most desirable of all favors.
Illus: “You can only go as far as you go on your knees.”
2. An advancement “that your love may abound”—Here is a call to love. “Abound" means to "overflow (like a cup or river), to superabound and thus to go beyond measure." He prays that they might live full lives. His prayer is for a love without limits. The men who had owned that poor demonic slave girl needed to be loved. The city magistrates who had unjustly beaten Paul needed to be loved. The Philippians had neighbors, friends, work-mates, acquaintances, relatives and other brothers in Christ who needed to be loved with the love of Christ. Paul prayed for this love to “abound”—not a one-time overflowing, but a continual activity (Rom. 5:5). This is an others-centered love. It looks for needs in the lives of others and seeks to meet those needs with no thought of returned favors.