“How can I pray for you?”
When several friends asked that question during our visit to Chicago last weekend, I gave the same answer every time.
“Pray Philippians 1:9-11 for us.”
That’s Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Philippi. I discovered it when I preached a sermon series called Praying With Paul in 2003. Of all the prayers I studied, this one made the biggest impact on me. In just a few words Paul captures the great need I feel for guidance in daily life:
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.
A few years ago my friend Robert Schuler taught me the crucial importance of the phrase “so that” when we pray. Here is a prayer for insight (literally “sight on the inside”) so that we will discern what is best. The New Living Translation says, “I want you to understand what really matters.” The Contemporary English Version has “that you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices.” I am particularly drawn to the New Life Version: “I pray that you will know what is the very best.” That says it all for me.
Here is my version of Paul’s prayer: “I pray that you will know . . .
The good from the bad,
The better from the good, and
The best from the better.”
Life is full of tough choices. I often feel the need for divine guidance so that I will know the difference between the good, the better and the best. That’s how I pray for myself, and that’s how I pray for others. If you consider the prayer in context, it covers all of life.
It starts with abounding love
That manifests itself in knowledge and discernment
Resulting in the ability to choose those things that are the best
And the visible fruit of a righteous life
That comes from a living relationship with Jesus Christ
So that God alone gets the glory.
What a fantastic prayer. Everything I need and all that I aspire
to be is in that prayer. That’s why “Philippians 1:9-11″ is my answer
when someone says, “How can I pray for you?”