Thankful, Prayerful, and Joyful
Our prayers tell us a great deal about ourselves and about our view of those around us.
Paul and the Philippian believers enjoyed a partnership grounded in the gospel. Theirs wasn’t a static fellowship based on a little bit of common belief. Rather, it was a deepening friendship that blossomed as they continued “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” and to “work out” their salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 1:27; 2:12). The Philippians’ lives were marked by progression both in their relationship with Paul as their servant and their relationship with Christ as their Savior. Because of this partnership, Paul could be thankful, prayerful, and joyful.
If a church is to grow spiritually, the relationships among its people must be those of genuine thankfulness. Such gratefulness shouldn’t depend upon the perfection of others; we are all far from perfect. Indeed, our imperfections should fuel our prayers for each other! Even so, true, heartfelt thankfulness allows fruitful ministry to continue.
Paul’s partnership was reflected in Paul’s prayers. As he prayed for the Philippian believers, his prayers were comprehensive: “… in every prayer of mine for you all.” He didn’t just pray for those who were doing well or those who were in his inner circle; he prayed for everyone. We need to do the same! Indeed, if we pray for those who are often hardest to pray for, we will discover that they can actually become some of our best companions. We may even think they have changed, only to discover that we have changed, simply because we added prayerfulness to thankfulness.
Joyfulness comes as we partner in prayer with each other. Inevitably, some prayers involve pain. Our hearts ache as we get under the burden of our brothers and sisters who may be agonizing over their kids, their marriages, the loss of their jobs, their illnesses, or their bereavements. But at other times, instead of feeling like swimming against the tide, prayer can be like going with the waterfall as we rejoice together. When together we bring our situations, needs, and triumphs before the throne of grace, that fellowship brings joy. That’s how Paul felt about the Philippian believers. He prayed sorrowful and hopeful prayers alike with joy because of their shared partnership.
We can learn from Paul. He knew that fellowship with other believers could create thankful, prayerful, and joyful people. How are your prayers for those with whom God has brought you into gospel partnership going to reflect Paul’s prayers for the gospel partners in his life?
1Paul and Timothy, servants1 of Christ Jesus,
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,4 both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
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