Many Christians often wonder what or how to pray. Some pray mainly about physical needs or getting rid of enemies both real and imagine. It is clear that each person loves himself more than others. It is also obvious that each person is much loved by at least one person though more probably by several persons. Each person in turn loves at least one person much and more often several persons.
It should then be expected that a person would find it not so difficult to know what to pray for his loved ones. But this is far from being the norm for many. In fact, the prayer of many for their loved ones can be described as “bread and butter” prayer.
Typically, such prayer in essence will say, destroy all their enemies, let everything they touch become successful, let them never have any trouble, wherever they go let everybody be just smiling at them and be doing whatever they want!
Learn to Pray and Please Pray!
When one desires to learn about something, he goes to the best source or an expert in that area. The disciples of the Lord wanted to learn how to pray. Whom did they turn to? The best in the business, the Lord of Lords Himself! What a privilege! What a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be taught in person by the Lord Himself! We do see the evidence of what they learnt from their Lord and our Lord in the records they left for us.
Like the apostles, every true believer in Christ should learn as much as possible about pray and should actually and practically pray as a lifestyle.
So, we turn now to one of the apostles. Every Christian could learn so much from the prayer life of the apostle Paul. It is true that the Lord Jesus Christ called him to suffer for His cause. The Lord mandated Ananias one of His disciples in Damascus to go to the blind Saul of Tarsus. Naturally, Ananias was afraid to go near a man of such notorious persecutor of the church.
But the Lord reassure him and let Ananias in on His plan to Saul of Tarsus:
“15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16).
And how prophetic and true that calling came to be! Perhaps this was why the apostle had so much grace abounding in his life as he himself later said,
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1Cor 15:10).
But through all his travails he was a true man of prayer who ever requested this same one thing from all, “pray for me”, “remember me in your prayers.”
The apostle Paul was in prison for no criminal activity but for preaching the gospel. Though his physical freedom was curtailed, his mind remained free and actively engaged in spiritual affairs. He still cared much for the churches of Christ. He particularly loved the Philippian church. He made it known that this was the only church to have ministered to him while under serious persecution in Thessalonica in spite of their own poverty and hardship (Phil 4:14-16).
There are numerous things to pray for and about, but we shall look at only a few that are for enduring things.
Let us take our reference from the epistle to the Philippians, specifically, Phil 1:9-11, which from the AV 1873 reads thus,
“9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.”
- Believer in Christ, Pray That Your Love and the Love of Other Believers May Abound (Phil 1:9).
The apostle said,
“9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Phil 1:9).
That your love and theirs (that of your loved ones and other believers in Christ) may abound.
This is not blind love that the world is peddling. One often hears in the world that love is blind and so, they fall in love. Little wonder then that as they easily fall in love, and their love is blind, when their lust regains its sight, they then fall out of love!
But the love in the word of God as detailed within the pages of Holy Scripture is the God kind of love and it is not blind. Rather it is based and thrives on knowledge.
God loves the believer in Christ. The believer in Christ is to love God and to love his fellow believers in Christ too.
God kind love, divine love
God’s love of us is not deterred by His knowledge.
On the part of God, God knows every detail of us humans. He still chose to love us in spite of His deep knowledge of us. God’s love for us is not deterred or hindered in any way by His deep and comprehensive knowledge of us. I dare say that God’s knowledge of us and the rest of His creation causes His love for us to thrive. Because God knows us so well, He is able to love us more than we can imagine.
He demonstrated that love for us by allowing His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us while we were yet still in our sins (Rom 5:8). There is nothing about us in our past, present or future that God does not know or that will surprise or shock God. Nothing in us can commend us to God or make us worthy of His love.
God knows how fickle minded the average believer can be even when he is shouting at the top of his voice about his strong and undying faith in God and love for God.
When the Christian is claiming that he will never compromise or sin against God, God already knows and prepares for his recovery when he stumbles as surely as he would.
Remember king David? Remember apostle Peter?
So, God loves all His children with all their flaws, frailty and proneness to error. He goes into extraordinary length to provide for and protect them. This is divine love.
It is the same divine love that God exhibits that He demands from His children.
Remember, “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy?” (Lev 19:2). It is also, “love divinely because I your LORD I love divinely!”
All genuine children of God should reciprocate His love as best as they can towards God and towards their fellow creatures.
Believer’s love of God should increase with the knowledge of God
On the part of us humans, our love of God is small even at the best of times. Our love for God is small probably because our knowledge of God is small and very limited in scope. Most if not all seem to love God because of His gifts. Hence, many exude much joy and jubilation when they feel they have been blessed by God. In circumstances like that they often make promises that are way out of their league.
So, it is not surprising that when the weather changes and winter sets in or storms of life, joy departs swiftly and heaviness and unbraiding of God takes its place. This should not be, but it is because this Christian has limited knowledge of who his God is.
Most of our lack of love for God and fear of the unknown is because of our lack of the knowledge of who God is. Please this knowledge is not brain or mental knowledge. This is not talking about how much you can quote scripture or how much you can bamboos the uninitiated with your, “in the original Greek” or in the “original Hebrew.”
Remember, the devil can and does quote Scripture but that has not led to his repentance!
The knowledge spoken of here is the knowledge of God in the heart. It is not just about feelings and experience. It is about the word of God written upon the tablets of your heart.
Love for fellow humans
Christian love ought not be hindered by the knowledge of the object of that love
This is the worse area when it comes to love. For love in human language is “open-eye” love. That “eye” is full of greed and selfishness. The eyes are open, they open only to the flaws and perceived short comings of the human being, and the advantage that can be gained from the other person. In such focus, the individual forgets or papers over the cracks that are his own flaws. Hence, what enables the average person to love is the perceived benefits from such a relationship. For as long as the perceived benefits or advantages are obtained, the love seems to hold as the flaws are overlooked.
This is God kind of love
But the Lord commands and expects the believer to love God and his fellow humans.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34).
That is, this love is to be a reality in the life of the Christian. This love of fellow believers is one of the signs of being genuinely born again (John 3:3, 5), child of God for we told by our Lord again,
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35).
This love is the self-sacrificing love as demonstrated by the Lord Himself in coming to die for us. It is not the love that anyone can do at will or work up.
But it is divine love and has God as its source. And so, we are exhorted,
“7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1John 4:7-11).
Further, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1John4:19). This God kind of love is produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22) working in the hearts of those who belong to the Lord. This love is not one that a person falls into.
Rather, it is a conscious, intentional decision to show kindness and generosity, not based on feelings or emotions, but rather it is discerning (John 13:34).
It is discerning for it is the knowledge of doctrinal and practical truth, judgement that is, spiritual perceptiveness involving spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, spiritual feeling and spiritual taste (John 4:23-24; 6:63).
Hence, true spiritual knowledge of God brings a certain level of spiritual insight into His ways which enables the Christian to love God and others more.
Therefore, the prayer to pray is that you and all other Christians will continue to display divine love ever more and more and that love should be exercised in full knowledge and all discernment as enabled by the Holy Spirit.
Where there is no love there will be mistrust and fear. Fear has torment. Perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18).
In the very horrible environment where the Philippian Christians were being persecuted, they needed to abound even more in their love for God and for one another. The more knowledge of God they have the more their love would flow more abundantly. This letter from the imprisoned apostle supplied them with more knowledge.
With more knowledge comes better judgement.
Where are you on the knowledge scale where God is concerned?
Remember, biblical love is not blind, rather it is based upon intimate knowledge of God. God has in-depth knowledge of all his creation. Knowing the pivotal place of knowledge, he chose to reveal as much of Himself as possible for man to understand in His written Word, the Holy Scripture.
You should choose to love God as the response of a grateful heart for what He has done for you. You should choose to love your fellow humans in spite of your knowledge of their flaws and failings.
Insight and discernment are nurtured by love and knowledge.
Again, the prayer to pray is that you and all other Christians will continue to display divine love ever more and more and that love should be exercised in full knowledge and all discernment as enabled by the Holy Spirit.
2. Believer in Christ, Pray That You and Other Believers May Approve Things That Are Excellent (Phil 1:10).
“that ye may approve things that are excellent” (Phil 1:10).
To approve is to test, scrutinize as genuine after examination. To certify as alright after testing. Through testing or scrutinizing things that are different, we come to know that which is genuine or true as opposed to what is fake and false.
Hence, believers test things that differ, rummaging through all sorts to sift truth from error, and to discriminate the higher spiritual blessings from the lower material blessings.
The criterion for discrimination, the standard of measure is always the Word of God as taught by the Holy Spirit.
The believers’ choice is choosing the best out of the good. These are the things that are excellent.
There are some that can distinguish precisely more than others in their taste for arts, music, fashion, sports and the like.
But when it comes to spiritual things, they lack discriminating ability and are completely tasteless. They are in many cases not better than if not outrightly worse than unbelievers.
And this is where all believers need to excel, discrimination in righteous, godly living.
When we are dominated and controlled by the love of God, we will want nothing more than to live according to His will. A Christian living according to the will of God, will be able to examine the actions taking place around him and be able to approve or disapprove them for his life.
Unfortunately, many Christians are still easily led astray and tossed from one side to another at will, because they are unable to properly examine the circumstances and make decisions in line with the word of God. This should not be. Determine to improve by cooperating more and more with the Holy Spirit.
Remember, it is not about you having more of the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is you yielding more and more of yourself to the Holy Spirit so He can do all that He wants to do in and with your life!
Love would incorporate the knowledge of God’s truth and spiritual discernment.
In our testing of others, we ourselves are tested. Hence, we are told,
“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” (Rom 14:22).
We gain and develop discernment by thinking on heavenly things,
“8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9).
Hence, the prayer to pray is that you and all other Christians may approve the things that are excellent according to the standard of God as you are being renewed in your mind continually (Rom 12:2; Phil 1:10).
3. Believer in Christ, Pray That You and Other Believers May Remain pure and blameless (Phil 1:10).
“that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (Phil 1:10).
Whatever you are commanded to do has a purpose, an enduring purpose according to the plan of God for you and the rest of His creation.
There are numerous things competing for your attention. Everyone seems to want a piece of you. They look attractive, reasonable, and often look like things to be desired. But many of these have no enduring value and quite a number of them are there for the purpose of derailing your spiritual journey, and failing that, then to make that journey as difficult as possible.
It can thus be very difficult and challenging to remain uncontaminated by the goings-on around you.
This you ought to be aware of for you should not be ignorant of the devices of the enemy (2Cor 2:11).
You ought to guard your integrity as this in one area where the onslaught of the enemy is often directed.
Integrity is one word that sums up “may be sincere and without offence”
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
This is the hallmark of reliability and faithfulness. You know how much you desire reliability in others. Well, that is demanding integrity.
But how reliable and faithful are you?
Can the Lord look down in your environment and have the confidence that He has a faithful child in that environment?
This is not about you claiming to be bringing crowds to Christ. Rather, it is about you being found faithful, a person of integrity as an individual by the Lord.
Are you faithful?
Remember there are those rejected in spite of their so-called incredible work “in the name of the Lord” because the Lord never knew them?
“21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mat 7:21-23).
There are many that are good at eye-service: They will do the right thing while others are around or looking. But when on their own or in a place where they are not known, they will do something else. They seem to always have an eye towards reward and would do whatever it takes to earn it including hypocritical gyrations disguised as activities.
There are those that are good at working the systems of they world. They pull the crowd, stamped the name “Christian” on whatever they do and assured themselves that they are alright. Afterall, the crowd and the fame are enough evidence that God is behind it all. Or what evidence do you need again! They are the accuser, the accuse, the lawyer, the jury, the judge and the executioner all rolled into one. I tell you what, they only are the ones deceived, the Lord is not.
To be sincere and without offence is to be pure. To be pure is to be of unmixed substance, to be unalloyed, uncontaminated, to be free from falsehood.
Believers in Christ are to stay uncontaminated by the world. God wants believers in Christ to have unblemished character. Being surrounded by ungodliness with all its antics at soliciting the believer to sin is no excuse to become contaminated.
The believer has been amply warned (John 15:20; 16:33; 2Cor 6:17). You are not of the world as your Lord was not of the world (John 17:14, 16). And the world will hate you as they hated your Lord first (John 15:19). This will be especially so, if like your Lord you testify that the works of the world are what it is, evil (John 7:7).
But is your life testifying against the evil works of the world? Or are you are gulping up the allures of the world?
The believer should be transparent in character so the world will see Christ in him. The believer in Christ is to be as Christlike in character as much as possible and not just be superficially plated over with outward religion.
In many areas of life there is the existence of the things that are bad, some that are good and others that are better. The believer in Christ must be able to discern the distinctions to be able to render effective service to God.
The believer must shun eye-service, playing to the gallery, and hypocrisy. These may be the in-things in the world, but they are abominations in the sight of our God before whose eyes all things are open. For before our God,
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13).
Love that is enlightened will enable the Christian to discern the things that are more excellent and to avoid what is questionable or downright wrong.
The Christian must be sincere being utterly transparent, and blameless in view of the coming day of Christ.
To be without offense does not mean to be sinless for Christians do commit sins. But the Christian who is blameless is the one who does not sin as a habit, and when he sins accidentally, he confesses and forsakes the sin, asking forgiveness from God, and from those who were wronged and making restitution whenever possible.
They are “void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). That is, the believers are neither causing nor receiving offence. It is such a life that bears fruit to the glory of God (Phil 1:11).
“The day of Christ” refers to the Second Coming of Christ and the subsequent judgment of the believer’s works at the Judgement seat of Christ (see alsoPhil 1:6; 2Cor 5:10).
Hence, the prayer to pray is that you and all other Christians may be sincere and without offence, that is, to remain pure and blameless before God till the day of Christ. That all may remain “void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16; Phil 1:10).
4. Believer in Christ, Pray That You and Other Believers May be Filled with the Fruits of Righteousness (Phil 1:11).
“being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:11).
Fruits of righteousness are the fruits produced by righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ is the true vine, those who believe in Him are the branches. As in any tree the branches are to bear fruit (John 15:1-2).
And indeed, the believer cannot bear fruit without Christ,
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
Good trees bear only good fruits (Mat 7:17). Christ is infinitely good without any evil. He is pure light. Hence, bearing fruits of righteousness should be intrinsic to the Christian as he is a branch in Christ the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). Bearing fruits of righteousness is part of the preparation of the believer towards his appearing before his Lord on the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Believers in Christ will not be judged as to their sins since they have been saved and forgiven. But each believer will appear before the judgement seat of Christ his Saviour and Lord to be judged according to his works.
Thus, for the genuine believer in Christ, though salvation is by grace through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9), judgment will be of works, excluding, the loss of salvation (1Cor 3:15; 2Cor 5:9-11; Jam 2:14-26). Hence, the apostle does not want them and indeed, any other believer to lose their rewards (1Cor 3:14-15).
If we are filled with the love of God, it will produce spiritual excellence, which will produce integrity which in turn will produce good works which are acceptable to God as He is the one who had ordained those good works.
The believer is not left alone to figure out how to do this or to work with just his human ability. Rather, on being saved and born-again, he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit who is his helper and comforter.
Hence, on being born-again, the Christian starts producing spiritual fruit.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance.” (Gal 5:22-23).
Notice that there is only one Holy Spirit and He has one fruit, but that one fruit has many manifestations.
One cannot claim to have love and not have faith.
A genuine believer in Christ cannot claim to lack one of these manifestations since the Holy Spirit resides in every true believer in Christ. However, any number of these manifestations may be more apparent than others depending on the level of spiritual development or progress of the Christian. This is especially important since they are divinely conferred attributes designed to transform the believer and to empower him to perform the divinely ordained good works assigned to him.
It is the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) that produces the fruit in the believer. Since the Holy Spirit only takes what is of Christ to give to the believer (John 16:13-15), these fruits of righteousness “are by Jesus Christ.”
Hence, we are informed,
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10).
Hence, the prayer to pray is that you and all other Christians may be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ. (John 16:13-15; Phil 1:11).
5. Believer in Christ, Pray That You and Other Believers May Do All Things unto the Glory of God (Phil 1:11).
As Christians, we should live our lives in a way that at all time bring glory and praise to God. God has created all for His glory,
“Even every one that is called by my name: For I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isa 43:7).
And we are thus informed that,
“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Ps 19:1).
The life of every believer should declare the glory of God. If we abound in love, excellence, integrity, and good works, we will bring glory to God and fulfil the desire of the Lord who tells us that,
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:8).
Glory is the sum of all God’s perfection and the honour for being who He is and doing what He has done as manifested to His creation. And God’s praise is the affirmation of the glory of God by those who recognize it, that is the believers in Christ who are His children, and indeed, His entire creation.
As a believer in Christ, do not wonder any longer about what to pray. Rather, start with what we have discussed thus far. Do not delay any longer. Start right away.
- Your Love and the Love of other believers may Abound (Phil 1:9).
- You and other believers may Approve Things That Are Excellent (Phil 1:10).
- You and other believers may remain Pure and Blameless (Phil 1:10).
- You and other believers may be filled with the Fruits of Righteousness (Phil 1:11).
- You and other believers may do all things unto the Glory of God (Phil 1:11).
Again, you, the believer in Christ should pray earnestly and continually for yourself and for the body of Christ for enduring virtues including but are not limited to:
- The God kind of love,
- Excellence in spiritual things,
- Fruits of righteousness that result in abundance of good works,
- All that the believers are engaged in should be to the Glory of God,
- And that in the final day of Christ we all shall be blameless in the presence of the Lord and shall be greatly rewarded.
To the unbeliever and non-Christian
Having come this far, you must by now realised that piece has been speaking to believers in Christ, genuine Christians. These are the ones commonly referred to as born-again Christians. The Lord Jesus Christ is their Saviour and Lord, and they are engaged in the good works that God has assigned to them while eagerly looking forward to the Second Coming of the Lord in power and glory.
But what if you are not yet a member of this group?
But what if you are an unbeliever? What if Christ is not yet your Saviour and Lord? What if you are not yet born of the Spirit?
Then the above may not be expected to apply to you. You are yet outside the fold of believers in Christ. And you cannot be expected to please the Lord and to do things that are only possible with the enablement of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you are saying you what to be part of the wonderful people of God who are the disciples of Christ. You want an end to the enmity between you and God.
And having read this piece you see the possibility but are wondering how you can change your situation.
You are asking, “How do I come into the fold of believers in Christ seeing I do not yet know Christ?”
Truly, there is a way out for God has made provision for you too.
By becoming a born-again child of God as demanded and provided for by God:
The invitation has gone out to all human beings including you reading this piece.
Accept God’s verdict concerning human beings:
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
That is, in the opinion of God, we all fall short of His standard. Further, our sin has earned a deserved wage which is death or separation from God in hell.
But while we are still in our sin, God took the initiative to reconcile us with Himself as we are told:
“But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Yes, while we were all still in our sin, God showed His love for us by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. God gave Jesus Christ to the whole world (John 3:16). So, all we need to do is to accept that Christ has died for our sin by standing in place of us.
We do this by doing what the word of God commands all would-be believers:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Everyone who appropriates the sacrifice of Christ is acceptable to Him. And He Himself extended the invitation to all:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, I encourage you to appropriate the finished work of Christ and confess Him as your Saviour and Lord NOW!
I prayer that God will accept you into His household through Christ in Jesus’ Name, Amen.