Friendships can make a difference in faith. I’m teaching this summer through Philippians. There’s a powerful interpretive lens by which I view this letter. When you get right down to it, this letter is simply words from a friend. Paul had affection for the believers in Philippi. Life experience, a common faith bond and brotherly love defined this friendship.
Exciting stuff happened in Philippi. Lydia came to faith. What about the healed demon possessed girl? There’s the appearance before the magistrate and jail. One night there is an earthquake and the jailer almost took his life. Paul and Silas where there when the jailer and his family believed. Paul was a partner in God’s moving at Philippi. We read in Philippians that he was grateful for every remembrance. God had begun a great work among the believers and would continue to do so.
I believe this friendship influenced Paul’s prayers concerning this young band of believers. He was praying for them long before he ever reveals the content of his prayers. They had a place in his heart. I believe friends pray for friends. In fact, I think friends know best how to pray for friends. There are those friends who sometimes know us better than we know ourselves. These (in Philippi) were gracious, loving and generous friends.
I’m fascinated by Paul’s prayer thought not necessarily unique to the these believers. He prays for their love to abound – continue to grow. The abounding would best take place through experience and discernment. Through the experience of practicing love they’d grow in their love for others. He prayed for the character development of their life – pure and blameless. When placed under the spotlight of accusation, they’d prove pure and without blame. Now that they were clothed in the righteousness of Christ, they’d bear the fruit of righteousness. This wasn’t about their own righteousness, but about Christ working through them.
Did you catch the basis for Paul’s prayer? Remember to see it through the eyes of a caring friend. Paul asked for their love to abound – not a love practiced with expectation, but on selfless action. Isn’t love the defining characteristic of a Christ follower? If we are known by our love, wouldn’t it make sense to pray for each other that our love would abound? This is a defining prayer and one we ought to pray for each other. If we’re ever going to communicate the gospel, it’ll be done living love. Let’s pray for one another that our love would abound.