Saturday, March 3, 2007

Intercessory Prayer--Philippians 1:4

“…always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…”
It has been said of Richard Baxter that”he stained his study walls with praying breath”[1] I have been told a similar but somewhat different story of Baxter: I had heard that today you can still see where he stained the walls in his prayer closet with his tears. Either way, Baxter prayed as he preached, “As a dying man to dying men”. What Baxter was doing, and the Apostle Paul before him, is called intercessory prayer--coming before God and pleading on behalf of other men.

This is precisely what we see Paul doing in Philippians 1:4. It was Jewish custom in Paul’s day to pray at specific times. Perhaps, Paul had a specific time where he would pray specifically for the Philippians. Or Paul could be saying that whenever he prays he never forgets to pray for the Philippians. Either way Paul prays for them with with joy.

Not only does Paul pray with joy but he prays for ALL of the Philippians. It is not by accident that Paul includes the word “all”. Even upon a cursory reading of his letter to the Philippians you can detect that they are struggling with disunity. Throughout the letter Paul is going to be encouraging the Philippians in their advancement of the gospel to do so in unity. Paul is saying that he comes before God daily to intercede on their behalf (every believer at Philippi).

I could preach an entire year on prayer and still not exhaust it’s importance. What I want you to catch in this brief devotional is that Paul prayed passionately with joy for the Philippians, and he prayed for all of them. In our ministry here at New London, I can testify to you that God moves through the prayers of His people.
I have a list in my office of people that show no evidence of spiritual fruit, I pray for them frequently. I pray for your families. I pray for you. I also keep a personal list of each of your names. On one side of the paper are the names of those of you who show evidence of spiritual fruit. I pray for you that God might continue to grow you and produce in you spiritual fruit (that He might make you worthy of the gospel). In the middle I have names of some of you that make professions of faith but it is not obvious whether you follow Christ or the world. For you I pray that God might make known to you, and to us, where you stand. If you do not know the Lord, I pray that he draws you to himself. If you do know the Lord, I pray that you might be given a passion for His glory and that you might be completely sold-out to Christ. Lastly, on the left-hand column is a list of those of you who do not show evidence of spiritual fruit. I consistently pray for your souls. I plead with God to do a mighty work in your life and to save you! Let me tell you, there are few greater joys in my life than moving a name from the left or middle to the far-right! There is nothing better than experiencing God! What a joy to see prayer answered in your lives.

Upon the topic of prayer, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do I pray?
  • Do I pray more for others or for myself?
  • Do I see answers to my prayers? (If not, you are in trouble at the heart of your relationship with God).
  • Am I able to pray with joy?
[1] E.M. Bounds, “Purpose in Prayer”,

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