This is the sermon for Wednesday, July 14th, 2010.
Praying with affection
Philippians 1:8-11 ESV – 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.
I think that we’d all agree that prayer for the Christian is so very important. Not only as an opportunity for worship and praying for your own needs and concerns, but also for the needs and concerns of others as well. Just like many things, I believe prayer should be done in three catagories.
- Upward – praise and worship and thanksgiving to the Father.
- Inward – prayer for ourselves and families.
- Outward – prayer for other believers and the lost.
Paul does as he usually does in the introductions of his epistles – he writes a greeting, a thanksgiving, and then a prayer for his readers. Within this prayer, Paul reveals his attitude toward those he is praying for as well. This is an attitude we should try to emulate. Let’s begin unpacking our text this evening.
The attitude of prayer – pure affection.
Philippians 1:8 ESV – For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Paul uses two terms in our text: yearn and affection. Let’s look at both words.
- Greek word, epipotheo (ep-ee-poth-eh’-o).
- Intensely crave possession, desire, long after.
- English dictionary definition: to have an earnest or strong desire; to long.
This isn’t just words on a page that Paul is writing, but a revelation into the attitude of his heart toward the Philippian Church. He next reveals the origination of this yearning: “with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
- Greek word, splughnon (splangkh’-non).
- Spleen, intestine, sympathy, tender mercy.
- English dictionary: fond attachment, devotion, love.
This yearning is from deep within, in the very regenerated heart that God has created in Christ.
Our prayers for one another must not be in passing, but from our redeemed heart that produces this type of yearning.
Now let’s look at the prayer requests that Paul mentions.
Prayer request #1: That love abounds with knowledge and discernment.
Philippians 1:9 ESV – And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…
Love without knowledge leads to anarchy; knowledge without love leads to legalism. Our love is based on the knowledge of Christ our Savior, and the discernment that comes from His Word. But this knowledge and discernment produces proper biblical love toward God, ourselves, and one another.
Prayer request #2: Having proper judgment.
Philippians 1:10a ESV – so that you may approve what is excellent…
This is approving or allowing things in your life that are beneficial to your salvation, family, and other matters. This is part of the discernment God’s Word brings – the ability to make good choices.
Prayer request #3: Kept from falling into sin.
Philippians 1:10b ESV – and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…
We should weep when believers fall into sin, never rejoice. It is so important to pray that they would be kept from falling. And if they do fall, pray for their restoration.
Prayer request #4: Spiritual growth.
Philippians 1:11 ESV – filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
No only should we be concerned for our won spiritual growth, but also the growth of other believers. Our concern for this should lead us in prayer for this as well.
Prayer for one another is so important and encouraging. Be the type of Christian that yearns for other believers welfare in prayer.