And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.
Many times when praying for Christians we say, “God bless Sister So-and-so” and “God bless Brother So-and-so,” yet we don’t find where Paul ever prayed that way. That kind of praying really doesn’t do much good; it only salves our conscience and makes us feel we’ve prayed.
Paul was specific when he said, “I pray, that your love may abound more and more.” That’s a good way to pray for Christians, isn’t it? Paul is praying for believers.
Notice Colossians 1:9:
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
This is Paul’s prayer for the Church at Colosse. If you are filled with the knowledge of His Will, then you’re going to know what all these blessings are with which the Father has blessed you.
In Ephesians 1:3, Paul prayed:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
That means He already has provided everything we need— all the blessings we will ever need. They are all wrapped up in Jesus.
To pray, “God bless So-and-so” would cause God to say, “I can’t answer that prayer. I’ve already done that, but they don’t know it.” Instead of Paul’s saying, “God bless them,” he said,
“[My] desire [is] that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” That would be a good way to pray for Christians. That’s what most Christians need, isn’t it?
Paul wrote this prayer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Since it’s Spirit given, it would be a good prayer for you to pray for yourself. You can say, “Lord, I’m going to pray this prayer for myself. It’s my desire and prayer that I might be filled with the knowledge of your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”
I think these prayers Paul prayed for the Christian Church will give us insight on how to pray for other believers as well.
For example, Paul wrote in Second Thessalonians 1:11:
2 THESSALONIANS 1:11
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I particularly like where Paul said, “fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
(That’s what God wants fulfilled in us.) I also like the phrase,
“that the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.”
Whoever thought of praying for a whole church that the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified in them? Are you praying that way? This is a clue for us. I’m convinced we need to be specific in our praying one for another.
Paul was very specific and very definite in his praying. Let’s look at more Scripture where Paul said something about prayer.
Second Corinthians 1:11 isn’t exactly his prayer for the Corinthians, but Paul is asking their help in prayer: “Ye also helping together by prayer for us….” Paul already had said in the 10th verse, concerning his difficulties, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will deliver us.” And then he said, “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf” (v.
He is talking here about the prayer of the church “helping together.” The church had prayed for him, hadn’t they? The
Bible says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man
availeth much” (James 5:16). We are encouraged to pray one for another. When people are in trouble, or if their lives are in danger—like Paul’s was—we need to remember to pray.
In Second Corinthians 9:14, Paul said, “And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in
you.” Here he is talking about other people in his company who also had prayed for the Corinthians. They prayed one for another; they were concerned one for another.
We are selfish many times in our praying. Really, we should put others first in our prayer life. Most of the time, all we do is pray for ourselves and our own little group or family—our own needs.
We are much like the farmer who said, “God bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four and no more.” We wouldn’t say it that way, but if you analyze it, that’s about the extent of many of our prayers!
For an individual to grow spiritually, he’s going to have to reach out and help others. You can’t put yourself first. For a church to grow and develop, it’s going to have to do the same thing. In Philippians, Paul makes mention of praying for the
Church at Philippi, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3). This is quite a statement, isn’t it? Do you remember what happened at Philippi? Do you remember when Paul first went down there? In a night vision, a man stood up and said, “Come over to Macedonia, and help us ” (Acts 16:9). Paul had decided to go into Asia Minor, but said he was forbidden to go by the Spirit. So Paul and Silas went over into Macedonia, and thus the first time the Gospel was preached on the European continent was in Philippi. This is what happened:
ACTS 16:13,14 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
Lydia was converted to Christianity and invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home. While in that city, Paul would often go into the synagogue and discuss the Scriptures.
On the streets of Philippi, a little maiden with a spirit of divination, or fortune-telling, would follow along behind Paul and Silas and say, “These men are servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). She knew who they were because the evil spirit in her knew. (But who wants the devil testifying for him?) Finally, one day Paul turned around on the street and cast the devil out of her—making it impossible for her to tell fortunes any more. Her masters became angry and had Paul and Silas arrested. They were stripped, beaten, and thrown in jail. At midnight they prayed and sang praises to God, as we studied earlier.
This Church at Philippi was born in persecution, yet Paul says, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3). When you have the right perspective, you can thank God for every test. I always thank God for them. I thank God when I am in the midst of them, and I thank God when they’re over; not because they are over, but because I had the privilege of proving Him faithful.
Believers should be full of joy and love, like a sponge is full of water. Then when the devil puts pressure on you, all that oozes out is joy and love instead of griping and complaining!
“.. .Making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now ” (Phil. 1:4,5). When Paul and
Silas were in jail at Philippi, they prayed and sang praises to
God. Anyone can sing praises to God after he has been delivered; it doesn’t take faith to do that. But Paul and Silas sang praises to God at midnight while they were in the midst of trouble. That’s the way it should be!
Paul says several things that give us a clue about how to pray for others and about our attitude in prayer. This is what he wrote to the Romans:
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
From verse 9 we see that Paul never forgot to pray for the Romans. (It is so easy to forget, isn’t it?) When he prayed for them, he mentioned one of his requests was that “I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” He wanted to be made a blessing to them; he wanted to impart spiritual things to them.
Then again, we have Paul’s prayers in Ephesians. These are the longest prayers Paul prayed; they are more detailed than prayers in his other letters.
EPHESIANS 1:16-23 16 [I] cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
Paul prayed that the Ephesians might receive a revelation of the knowledge of God in their hearts; in other words, that the inner man might be enlightened.
One translation says, “The eyes of your heart, or your spirit….” (Eph. 1:18). Paul didn’t pray for their mental understanding, because we know it’s beyond human (mental) comprehension to grasp the meaning of what Paul said here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We know the Word means what it says, but we need to get the revelation of it in our hearts.
I made giant strides in my spiritual life when I began to pray this Ephesian prayer for myself. At my last pastorate in Texas, I shut myself up in my church during the winter of 1947-48 for hours and even days, never coming out.
I left my Bible open to this chapter on the altar, and nearly every time I went in, I got on my knees and prayed this prayer for myself.
I would say, “Now, Lord, Paul was inspired by the Spirit of God to pray this prayer, and he was inspired by the Spirit of God to write it. I am praying it for myself.” Every place Paul said your, I would insert I. Where he said, “I pray that the eyes of your understanding ….” I would say, “I pray that the eyes of my understanding … .”
Then I would turn to the next prayer, in Ephesians 3:14-21, and I would pray for myself again. Since I would be there for hours at a time, I would pray those prayers every two or three hours—perhaps half a dozen times a day.
The Lord spoke to me one day while I was at the altar praying. He said, “I am going to take you on to revelations and visions.” Immediately after that, revelations in line with the Word began to come. In fact, they came so fast I said to my wife, “What in the world have I been preaching the last 15 years?” I learned so much and got so much new knowledge from the Bible, praying these prayers on my knees before God, it seemed as if I didn’t know anything before.
When the eyes of your understanding—your spirit—are enlightened, you can make more spiritual progress in a few days or weeks than you can in 15 years of studying the Bible and preaching. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t study; I still study! But I’m saying these are good prayers to pray for yourself.