Paul’s Prayer Phil. 1: 1-11 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the first eleven verses of this first chapter of Philippians, Paul tells the Philippians what he has been praying for them. The things he prays in this text are the same things that any preacher would want to be able to pray for his own congregation. Though Paul was not the pastor of these churches (they had bishops and deacons, verse 1), he was the one that got them started and thus he and they had an unusually close relation. As a matter of fact, his prayer for these churches is the same kind of prayer that a missionary out of a church should be able to pray for his home church or perhaps for a supporting church with which he has close ties.
Paul’s regular prayer to God for the Philippians included two main things:
His thanksgiving to God for them – he was thankful for:
His Joy  – He had a great deal of joy associated with his thoughts about them. This is not always the case between a preacher and his church or a missionary and his home church. There are many things that can strain the relationship. One of the main things that causes grief between a pastor and his congregation is that they won’t go with him in the direction that God is leading him (Heb 13:17). For a missionary the trouble could be that the church won’t support him when trouble arises or when his objectives or methods change (2 Tim 4:16).
Their Fellowship  – Things in Philippi got off to a rough start (Acts 16:12-40). Paul and Silas got thrown in jail at the very beginning of their ministry there. However, evidently the brethren got behind Paul right away and supported him continually from then on. They were one of his most faithful supporting churches (Phil 4:15).
His Confidence  – Not only was Paul thankful for what the Philippians had already done for him, but he was also thankful for what he knew the Lord would be able to continually accomplish through them in the future. He could tell that the work done in the Philippians was a work of the Lord (Phil 2:13) and not a work of men (1 Thes 2:13). Some churches stagnate and plateau after a while because they are built on men. Others continue to grow spiritually and numerically because they are built on the Lord (1 Cor 3:11).
Their Grace  – In spite of how hard it can be to love someone that takes a strong and bold stand for the gospel and who is locked up for what he preaches and believes, these Philippians stood with Paul. The same grace that sustained him sustained them (Rom 5:2). Congregations need the same grace that upholds their pastor.
His Love  – He loved the Philippians sincerely and he knew that his love for them had come from God (Jn 13:34-35). He didn’t have to force a love them; his love for them was deep in his heart and evident. This is the love that every pastor needs for his church.
And his requests to God for them – he prayed for their:
Love  – he prayed that their love for him would abound – he knew that the more they got to know God and his will (Col 1:9) that more they would love him because God is love (1 Jn 4:16-17). Love between a pastor and his congregation should grow as the years go by like the love for spouses grows. After all, work done without charity is worthless (1 Cor 13:1-3).
Excellence  – he didn’t want to see churches that were satisfied to be mediocre and he didn’t want them sidetracked by false doctrines. It is easy in serving God to become complacent with doing good things and acceptable things without ever doing those things that are perfect (Rom 12:1-2). Paul wanted them to always strive to do the very best things for God. As a man said, “Why just be better than someone else when you can be the best.” Furthermore, he had already seen the mess heretical doctrines caused inGalatia and he wanted the Philippians to have enough discernment to avoid the problems stemming from them (Gal 1:6).
Sincerity  – he prayed that they would be sincere and without offence. Paul was genuine and honest in his preaching of the gospel and care of the flock. Too often, though, congregations lack the sincerity of the preacher (they just “go through the motions”) and are often easily offended. In time this will tear up a church. Already there was a little rift inPhilippi (Phil 4:2). Things were worse inCorinth (1 Cor 1:11). Paul warned the Galatians that offences and a lack of sincerity could wipe them out (Gal 5:15).
Fruitfulness  – he prayed that they would be filled with the fruits of righteousness. This fruit comes from two primary sources. First it comes from the wisdom that is from above (Jas 3:17-18). If the congregation is following an earthly wisdom, it will yield bad fruit (Jas 3:14-16). If it follows godly wisdom, the fruit it yields will be right. Second it comes from enduring the chastening of the Lord (Heb 12:11). None of us is perfect when we get saved. Therefore, because God loves us, he uses chastening to perfect the right fruit in us (Heb 12:6-7). The trouble with both of these is that it takes a lot of character to find and apply God’s wisdom and to endure God’s chastening in order to bear God’s fruit.