Philippians 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.
This verse reveals two essential things about prayer:
1. Prayer must be regular
2. Prayer must carry the right attitude
Paul not only says,“I always pray for all of you…”, but he says “I always pray with joy”.
I always pray. I made a commitment to the Lord when first arriving in Hong Kong, January 2011, to rise early and to pray. You will never understand prayer from a book, it is something you must do, and I understand why Paul says, “I always pray.” I understand why Jesus said in the parable of the persistent woman in Luke 18 – “always pray and never give up.” Prayer not only changes situations, it also changes you!
But it is also important to pray with the right attitude. Paul prays with joy, all of his prayers flow out of a thankful attitude. He says,“I thank my God…”. This was something he would have learned from Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Some of the most powerful miracles of Jesus were preceded by a prayer of thankfulness. When He raised Lazarus’ dead body from the tomb, when He fed the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and fish – both times He looked to His Father in heaven and thanked God first.
In Philippians 1:3 Paul is praying for those he has a deep relationship with – the church at Philippi.
Think of someone that you may have a strained relationship with – do you pray for them or do you complain about them? Our natural tendency is to argue and complain about the people in our life – what they are doing or not doing. The Lord’s command in Philippians 2:14 is to do everything without arguing or complaining, and the way to do this is to pray. If you prayed more for these people, you would complain less about them – but prayer also changes the situation.
It really is quite logical. Does prayer work? – “Yes.” Does complaining work? – “No.”
Often, when it comes to the closest people in our lives, our focus is to change them. But changing others ‘never works’ – only ‘prayer works.’ Look at the following counsel:
- The quickest way to change a ‘good relationship' to bad – is to try to change them
- The quickest way to change a ‘bad relationship’ to good – is to start praying for them
With that in mind, how should I pray for other people? Let Paul show you how in Philippians 2:9-11:
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
- Pray they will “grow in love.”
10 so that you may be able to discern what is best
- Pray they will “make right choices.”
and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
- Pray they will live with “Integrity.”
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
- Pray they will become like “Jesus.”