pray that others will have abounding life

Paul says in Philippians 1:9-11:

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.

I’m trying to put this prayer for others into a practical setting in my life.  Unpacking this "religious" sounding prayer reveals a powerful way to pray.  And I’m challenged to ask: What if I prayed this way for my kids?!  I get too hung up on praying that they’ll behave well in front of others or that they’ll learn to chew gum with their mouth closed or that they won’t break their arm on the scooter.  But what if I spent more time praying for my kids the way that Paul prayed for others?!

What if instead I prayed that their love would abound more and more for each other and for their parents and for their God?  What if instead I prayed that their love would abound in knowledge and depth of insight, not just emotions- not just infatuations and surface desires, but with a love founded in a deep, core understanding of who they are and who God is and what life is all about?!  What if I prayed that they would be overflowing in wisdom so that they may be able to discern what’s best- rather than just having good behavior or doing the right things or being safe- that they would actually know in the core of their being what is noble and true and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy?!  What if I prayed that they would know this stuff in the innermost part of who they are and that it would flow out of them as they live?! 

What if I prayed that my kids would be pure and blameless until the day of Christ- for the rest of their lives until they had the privilege of meeting face to face fully all out with the Savior- and filled with the fruit of righteousness- free from the muck all around us?!  What if I prayed that they could grow up to stand and say, "We choose to live blamelessly.  We choose to not hurt anyone.  We choose to make a good difference in this world.  We choose to help others.  We choose to follow Jesus."  What if I prayed that my kids, rather than being protected from the junk of the world, would be able to stand powerfully against it?!  Purity and blamelessness and righteousness does not mean retreating and hiding from sin.  Purity and blamelessness and righteousness means engaging what is wrong with this world with the love of Jesus Christ and being able to claim victory.  It’s standing with the confidence of Jesus’ love in a world that needs people to stand in the confidence of Jesus’ love.  What if I prayed that way all the time for my kids?!

That is the kind of life that comes through Jesus Christ and that is the kind of life, as Paul points out, gives praise and glory to God.  And I love my kids… and that is the sort of life I want for them… and so every time I think of them I need to praying like this for them.

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  1. Anne, thanks for the well-practiced comment about prayer. Patience is a huge aspect of prayer- and a big reason why I think many of us don’t pray like we should. Prayer doesn’t guarantee an immediate fix… so instead of exercising… we sit on the couch eating potato chips. Well, I’m not saying you do that. I do sometimes! It’s like the job is too big, so I don’t even start sometimes. Prayer is sometimes more about the habit of time spent with God in trust and wrestling and conversation than in the resulted answer we often are looking for. Thanks for sparking this for me, Anne!

  2. hey ken!
    i’ve really enjoyed these posts about prayer…its something God has been teaching me a lot about the past few weeks, especially to be praying continually. coming back from northern ireland, i feel sometimes so useless when i hear of people i’ve grown to love over there hurting, and its hard being so far away. the obvious answer: pray for them, but its hard since i’m a practical person and actually want to be there to help them! so God is teaching me patience in prayer, and keeps reminding me that i can love them through my prayers. i was reminded the other night after struggling with this about the passage later on in Philippians (4:6-8) and remembered your teaching on it. God really spoke through it again in a real fresh way. anyways, i really appreciate your thoughts…they are really encouraging to me and as always, are challenging as well.
    take care and God bless.

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