I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.
Philippians 1:9, NLT*
This prayer is Paul’s deepest longing for these people he loves. They’re enduring hard times, but he asks for this—not for relief from suffering, for health, protection or happiness. In verse 6, he expresses confidence that God will use even these hard times to complete what He has started in them.
He’s praying they’ll hold firm for their lifetimes, or until Christ’s return. Whichever comes first. (Phil.1:10) Either way, Paul is taking the long view. And the highest thing he can ask for these believers whom he loves is that they’ll bring much glory and praise to God. (Phil.1:11)
For ourselves, and for our loved ones, it’s so easy to be distracted by the circumstances. To beg for relief. Rescue.
I’m not suggesting those desires are wrong, but I’m challenged to look at both the immediate need and the bigger picture. To pour out my heart while remembering Jesus’ prayer, “Nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.” To pray, “Use this.” And in praying for help, to include the emotional and spiritual with the physical. To pray for love, encouragement. Hope. Endurance. Remembering that the ultimate goal is growth for us and glory for Him.
Mighty and loving God, we know that when Your glory is revealed it means people will see Your character and will be drawn to You. Help us be willing to endure hard times if that’s what’s needed for others to see Your goodness in how You sustain us. Help us not to be too quick to rescue others, if You might have a lesson for them in their struggles. Show us how to be Your hands and feet, Your voice of encouragement. Grow us in faith and trust, for the long view.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.