Summary: Paul understood that nothing brings deeper joy than praying for others.
Philippians: Secrets to Abundant Joy
Prayer is the greatest privilege we have from God and one of the greatest gifts of our salvation. Yet, prayer is so neglected in even most who call themselves Christians. Does this offend you? When I speak of neglected prayer, I am not speaking of that short prayer made before a meal or before bedtime, but I am speaking of that prayer which forces us to set aside a time to truly communicate with God.
Now one thing that will provoke prayer in our private lives and our corporate lives is hard times. Think of the 9/11tragedy just a year and a half ago, our churches filled up with people wanting to pray and national prayer services were being conducted, but as the threat resided and so did the prayers.
Paul was a man in great trouble. He was locked in a Roman prison far from his family and friends simply for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And in his cell we find him praying; but as we listen we find something interesting about his prayers: his prayers was not for his own needs but for the needs of others. Isn’t that amazing?
I submit to you this morning that Paul’s discipline of praying for others or intercessory prayer was one of his secrets of Abundant Joy. Let’s look at Paul’s prayer.
I. PAUL PRAYED WITH A SPIRIT OF THANKSGIVING (1:3)
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
1) Reason for Paul’s Prayer “every remembrance of you”
When times are tough and our thoughts are beginning to rob us of our joy in Christ, we must take each thought captive and think on those things which are good. And what better thing to think upon than our special friends that God has placed in our lives. Relationships are what life is made of and we are to thank God for those special relationships that He has woven into our lives. It is amazing how a heart of gratitude can fill our souls with great joy even in the darkest times.
2) Object of Paul’s Prayer “my God”
Every good and perfect gift comes from God
God should be thanked
I think of Greg Lyons’ testimony when I read Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving. Greg was in Honduras with one of our mission teams when an emergency call was made to him. You can only imagine what was going on in his mind before he found out the details of the matter. He rejoiced over the fact that the emergency was only “his office had burned down.” It was not that the loss of his office did not cause him great pain, but the joy came from knowing none of his loved ones were harmed.
II. PAUL PRAYED WITH AN ATTITUDE OF JOY (1:4-7)
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
1) Joy of Fellowship with his brothers in Christ (1:5,7)
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;........7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
There is no greater joy than to assist those who have been in battle for you. There are people in my life that I would absolutely do anything for and would do it with joy because they have partnered with me in my victories as well as my troubles.
Paul had these same type of relationships and it brought great joy to pray for those who meant so much to him.
From koinos (NT:2839), "common." A relation between individuals which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest and in each other. The word answers to the Latin communio, from communis, "common." Hence, sometimes rendered "communion," as 1 Cor 10:16; 2 Cor 13:14. "Fellowship" is the most common rendering. Thus, Phil 1:5: "your fellowship in the gospel," signifying cooperation in the widest sense; participation in sympathy, suffering, and labor. Compare 1 John 1:3,6-7. Occasionally, it is used to express the particular form which the spirit of fellowship assumes; as in Rom 15:26; Heb 13:16, where it signifies the giving of alms, but always with an emphasis upon the principle of Christian fellowship which underlies the gift.
(from Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
participant with others in anything, a joint partner (from The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright (c)1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.)
2) Joy of Confidence in His God in Heaven(1:6)