Praying for One Another in Light of Eternity

Do you want to know what you most desire for the people you love? Look at what you pray for them. I’m sure you’ll discover they’re all good desires – good health, for singles to be married, for marrieds to have children, for success in education and vocation. You get the idea. Who doesn’t want the best for their family, friends, other Christians?

I wonder, though, how those desires (and prayers) would change if we prayed with the end in mind. That is, how would our prayers for those we love change if we prayed with eternity in mind? In light of eternity, we desire that those we love would know Christ. We hope that in the day of Jesus Christ, our loved ones will be found blameless.

So, now I want to ask you: How will we pray for one another in light of eternity?

As you look back on your recent prayers, are they more focused on your temporal desires for your loved ones or on eternal ones? As we learned on Sunday, in Philippians 1:9-11, the apostle Paul instructs us how to pray for the church in light of eternity. May his example spur us on to pray for one another in light of eternity.

The Content of Our Prayers in Light of Eternity
In light of eternity, Paul prayed that the Philippians might grow increasingly in discerning love. The Philippians were loving. They proved their love by how they partnered with and cared for Paul while he was in prison. But Paul wanted them to continue growing in love, and the love he wanted them to grow in was discerning. Such love is informed by real knowledge and all discernment (v.9). Paul wanted the Philippians to grow in a love that was informed by a knowledge of God, his word, and his ways. Paul desired that the Philippians would be a discerning people. But – of all the things Paul could have prayed for – why did he make this request?

The Purpose of Our Prayers in Light of Eternity
Paul wanted the Philippians to grow in discerning love because he knew that this world is dark and crooked, our flesh is weak and forgetful, and the devil is sly and deceitful. As we walk in this world, the devil is continually offering us promises for our joy that compete with God’s promises. The fight of faith is a regular battle to choose between those two competing offers: God’s and Satan’s. Every day – every moment – we must choose either to listen to Satan’s offers or listen to God’s promises. Paul prayed that the Philippians might grow in discerning love so that they would approve the things that are superior, more excellent, and of far greater value. That is, he wanted them to be able to discern between the fleeting, temporal offers of the devil and the far greater, more valuable, superior promises of God. (v.10). All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. And no matter what Satan or this world may offer us, everything God has for us is far better. But Paul’s concern was not just overcoming temporal temptation.

The Goal of Our Prayers in Light of Eternity
Paul prayed with the end in mind. As the Philippians grew in discerning love and learned to approve that which is of greater value, Paul trusted that in the day of Christ, they would be found pure and blameless (v.10). Why? Because as they learned to choose the more excellent things, they would walk in holiness, “filled with the fruit of righteousness” (v.11). Of course, they would not have to walk in their own strength, trusting in their own works because Paul spoke of a righteousness that “comes through Jesus Christ” (v.11). Consequently, Paul prayed that God would work among the Philippians to give them discerning love and to allow them to grow in righteousness through the grace and strength of Christ. To what end? To the end that they would glorify God in the day of Christ Jesus (v.11).

It’s not wrong to pray for temporal needs. In fact, it’s right and good. Jesus taught his disciples to ask the Father for their daily bread. Still, I wonder if our prayers for one another are too “this worldly”? What if we prayed that we and those we love would grow in discerning love so that we might approve of what is excellent in order that, in the day of Christ, we would be found blameless? I think praying in light of eternity will change our desires for one another and direct our ministry together in such a way that we will work, by God’s grace and by faith, to present everyone complete in Christ on that day.

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