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 for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. (verses 9-11)
Don’t you love it when someone with spiritual maturity and insight prays over you? I can think of many moments when a prayer like that has touched me deeply, turning on lights of new hope, awakening yearning for the Lord’s fulfilment and his good work to be done in my life. So good.
Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have the Apostle Paul himself, with Spirit-filled wisdom and insight and passion, pray for you?
Well, here’s your opportunity. Yes, he’s praying specifically for the Philippians, but the Lord caused this prayer to be recorded in the Scriptures, so we ourselves could step right into it. Let the words pour over you, igniting fresh longing for more of the Lord’s work. We’ve already heard Paul’s absolute confidence that God’s good work, which he’s begun in us, will be carried forward until perfection in the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). Yes! Now, in this prayer, we get a deeper sighting of the work he is choosing to do. Here are some of its elements:
(1) “That your love may abound more and more.” First and foremost, this highlights the love we have for the Lord himself. At the end of Ephesians, Paul spoke of those “who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Ephesians 6:24). Beyond our own capacity, the Lord has birthed in our hearts a love for him which is “incorruptible,” “unending,” and “pure.” Now, in this prayer, Paul asks that such love might overflow, exceeding any fixed capacity, like a gushing stream spilling into a mountain pool, continually running over, its crystal-clear waters cascading forth. That’s what I want. But also, he’s praying that our love for one another would similarly abound – love just like Jesus’ own. The next chapter will urge us to have the same attitude in ourselves that was also in Christ Jesus, a love that lays aside its rights for the sake of another. May it be.
(2) “In knowledge and depth of insight … to discern what is best.” Elsewhere, Paul prays that we would be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9). In both cases, such knowledge springs primarily from God’s word, enlightened by the Spirit, who applies it to our hearts, and shines the light on our path so that we might walk “in a manner worthy of the Lord.” May we embrace God’s word. May we submit to the Spirit’s enlightening. Oh, may it be.
(3) To “be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” This goal envisions being presented as a pure virgin to Jesus himself on that great day when he returns. Knowing myself, I ask, how could that ever be? Pure and blameless? Impossible in my own strength! But divinely possible, as I am “in Christ.” I am enfolded in his very life. I choose to abide. I lean into him, knowing that he who has begun a good work will perfect it. May it be!
(4) “Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” The Father is conforming us to the image of his Son, so that the righteousness of Jesus himself is formed within us. Oh, how good. He’s also prepared (before creation!) good works for us to step into, allowing the fruit of righteousness to be borne into the world around us. None of it in our own strength – instead, all of it “through Jesus Christ.” Yes, may it be!
This is a prayer I can gladly submit to, again and again. Oh, may his work be done. Oh, may it be brought to completion.
“To the glory and praise of God.”
O Lord God, this is my prayer, that you might fulfill these words in my life. May love abound. May knowledge of your will increase. May you preserve me pure and blameless in Christ for his great day. May you bear your fruit through me. To your glory. Amen.
Pray: Choose one of the phrases and pray it for yourself several times today. Or, take these three verses and seek to memorize them, making the words your prayer at each stage of the process.