Summary: How do you pray for one you love dearly? Paul demonstrates a prayer for abounding love, knowledge, insight, discernment of excellence, purity without offense, righteous fruit and glory to God.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge (super-knowledge) and depth of (all) insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best (excellent) and may be pure (nothing to be judged negatively for) and blameless (without offense) for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
The Prayer of a Lover
How do you pray for someone you love? Is that prayer different from how you’d pray for someone you hardly know?
I did a search online for prayers for someone you love and didn’t find any. There are many prayers available online-like a prayer that God would make me more loving, or give me His kind of love, or even that He would give me a soul mate (someone to love me), but no model prayers for a lover. Paul sets a model for prayer concerning one you love, and it’s a rich example. This is what Paul prays for people he loves:
Love abounding more and more
Maturity is something few people seem to be talking about. We talk about effectiveness, efficiency, passion, pride, and productivity, but little about character. Who you are is more important that what you do. Who you are becoming is more valuable that what you produce. Paul prays that the ones he loves will become better lovers. Love is difficult. It requires we get out of ourselves and look to the needs and aspirations of others. Passion focuses on my needs and fulfillments. Love looks to the needs and fulfillments of others. In the kingdom of God, we are measured not by the bottom line of a balance sheet-we are measured by how deeply we have grown in love over our lifetimes. And there are elements of love Paul mentions that are not intuitive, knowledge, insight, and discernment.
Love must be knowledgeable. How do you respond to a beggar on the street? If you ignore them, as I often have, you are probably not doing the loving thing. But what if you give money to a beggar who immediately takes your money to buy his favorite intoxicant? You haven’t helped him. The old saying “love is blind” isn’t what the Bible teaches. Lust may be blind, but love must be knowledgeable. You can’t know how best to love the world unless you know the world. In fact, as described in our considerations of Ephesians 5, the Bible speaks of sex as knowing-Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bare Cain (Genesis 4:1). For this reason, Peter tells husbands to love their wives according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7). True love knows and understands and, from that knowledge, tailors love to the needs of the beloved.
Strong’s Concordance describes insight in this way “properly, the brand of sense-discernment which "cuts through" hazy ethical (moral) matters to really "size things up"”. There are many “hazy ethical and moral matters in the world today. In order to love people we have to come to terms with the realities they face, and offer viable solutions to apparently intractable problems. Love that simply tells people that what they are doing is wrong is no love at all. Love that helps people overcome and understand their problems is immediately helpful and beneficial. To love this way we need both insight (understanding) and discernment
Discernment of Excellence
C. S. Lewis wrote a wonderful book The Abolition of Man. In it he argued we as a culture are devaluing the qualities of character that have defined civilized thinking around the world for thousands of years-the ability to recognize beauty and goodness and truth. Here’s an extended quote from the end of the chapter called Men Without Chests
"We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the 'spirited element'. The head rules the belly through the chest— the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment—these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. . . .
"And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."