Summary: We are going to look at Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi and what we can learn about the transforming prayer Paul prayed for that church.
Connection: Lessons from Paul on Prayer
Transformation of Prayer
Intro: Today we are wrapping up our series on the prayers of the apostle Paul for the churches he was ministering to. We have looked at the priority of prayer that focuses on Christ and places him in the place of preeminence. We looked last week at the purpose of prayer to help shape the practices of our lives.
Today we are going to look at Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi and what we can learn about the transforming prayer Paul prayed for that church.
While we have not been looking at specific ways to pray, we want to try and find the meanings behind the prayers of Paul and how those prayers may affect our lives in our daily walk with Christ.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11(NIV)
What are the main thoughts of Paul’s prayer and what do they mean for us today?
I. Love may abound
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” Philippians 1:9
Paul’s prayer begins with an encouragement for the love that they have to grow more and more.
The love Paul speaks of is a love originating in God.
This is not just a sentimental love, but it is a love that has its birth in the heart of God and is passed on into the lives of his children.
This is the type of love Paul described to the church at Corinth:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps not record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Paul desires for us to know Gods love not human love.
Human love is almost always opposite of Gods. It’s impatient, desiring to have its own needs met and to serve it own interests.
The love Paul talks about is a love that flows from the character of God.
Love in the life of a believer is to overflow into every area of life.
The image of love abounding is that of a river overflowing its banks and flooding the plain. It saturates everything that it comes into contact with and floods it with the heart of God.
**Picture of Red River Flooding
The photo above is taken on April 10, 2001 shows flooding of the Red River of the North, near Fargo, North Dakota. It must be an awful feeling to have to surround your home with sand bags and hope that the river doesn’t continue to rise. The Red River of the North is prone to flooding in the spring, especially during snowmelt. The floodplain is extremely flat, and when the river overflows its banks, the flood-waters can spread out for miles. Rainfall coinciding with the melting snow is a sure recipe for flooding along the Red River of the North. Also, because the river flows from south to north, the downstream (more northern sections) of the river may still be frozen when floodwaters move north. As a result, the frozen river acts as an ice dam, and the flood-waters spread out even further. The flooding this year is the worst since the terrible floods of 1997, which were the worst ever recorded in the Red River valley.
“Knowledge” in this passage refers to the experience of the love of God.
As we experience his love and grasp it into our lives, we have a deeper understanding and insight of the heart of God.
The more our lives are filled with the love of God, the more we are able to pass it on toward others.
Samuel Logan Brengle (died 1932) was a Salvation Army commissioner. Among Salvationists, he has always been appreciated as one of their greatest evangelists. When a young man, Brengle was converted to Jesus one night through the preaching of the Army’s founder, William Booth, when the general visited Boston at the turn of the 20th century.
“I walked over Boston Commons before breakfast,” Brengle wrote, “weeping for joy and praising God… in that hour I knew Jesus, and I loved Him till it seemed my heart would break with love… I was filled with love for all His creatures… I heard the little sparrows chattering; I loved them… I loved the dogs, I loved the horses, I loved the little urchins in the street. I love the strangers who hurried past me, I loved the heathen-- loved the whole world.”