“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5)
What are your patterns of prayer and intercession? I know how diligent many of us are in praying for one another and in prayer for the Church and the World. Perhaps you use an app like PrayerMate or simply keep a list of people and groups and situations that you pray for regularly? It’s an important ministry that we undertake for one another. But I wonder if, like me, the routine of intercession sometimes degenerates into a rote process, a dutiful repetition of familiar requests, a recitation of a ‘shopping list’ or ‘wish list?’
I have enjoyed reading through Paul’s epistles lately looking for those moments when he engages in prayer. It has been refreshing to pick up his “my prayer for you is…” statements and his highly specific and wonderfully varied prayers for those he writes to. There is such encouragement and warmth and intimacy in looking at his prayer language. I commend this study to you.
Have a look, for instance, at his fervent, continuous prayer for the Church at Rome and his desire to meet with them for mutual encouragement (Romans 1:7-13). Adapt his prayer for the Corinthians that they would do nothing wrong, do everything right, and build up one another (2 Corinthians 13:5-10). Use his prayer that the Ephesians would not just know about God but know Him better, know Hope and know God’s power (Ephesians 1:15-23), and that rooted in this relationship they would grasp the full measure of God’s love (Ephesians 3:14-21). Pray his prayer for those at Philippi to continue their partnership in the gospel while abounding in love and fruitfulness (Philippians 1:1-11). His prayer for Colossae’s believers is for them to be filled with the Spirit, worthy of the Lord and fruitful for Him (Colossians 1:1-14). His prayer for the Thessalonians is possibly my favourite one: “that by His power [God] may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-12). Even his prayers for individuals are so lovely too: such as his prayer for partnership in the faith with Philemon (Philemon 1-7).
May your prayer life and your prayers for one another be a joy.