Praying for Our Church
TEXT: Philippians 1:1-12
TOPIC: Praying for Our Church
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
January 25, 2009
Before a full-time chaplain was appointed, congressmen took turns opening sessions of the Congress with prayers. Finally a permanent chaplain was appointed. One day he was late arriving and when time came for the session to begin he was not there to pray. An older congressman stepped to the front and prepared to pray. The Speaker of the House hit the desk with his gavel and asked, “By what right does the gentleman pray?” The volunteer answered the Speaker, “By the right of any sinner, sir.” He was permitted to pray.
Prayer is not only a right it is a responsibility and a privilege. And if congressmen ought to pray for our nation, Christians surely ought to pray for their church! This morning I am concluding our New Year’s series on prayer with this message, “Praying for Our Church.”
At the beginning of his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul names four thing he prayed when he interceded on behalf of the church at Philippi. When we pray for our church here at First Baptist Center Point, let us ask the Lord for the same four things. (Read Philippians 1:1-12)
1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:1-11 (NKJV)
I. PRAY THAT OUR CHURCH MAY HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF LOVE,
Philippians 1:9, And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more
No church loved God, Paul or one another more than the Philippian Church. But Paul begins his letter to the Philippians by praying that their love would abound still more and more.
Paul knew that a church could never have too much love. So he prayed first of all that they would have an abundance of love.
Jesus gave us a new commandment – a commandment to love one another.
John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
How are we to abound in love toward one another? “Just as I (Jesus) have loved you, that you love one another.” Jesus set the standard high. Love unconditionally. Love sacrificially.
II. PRAY THAT OUR CHURCH MAY HAVE AN EXCELLENCE OF UNDERSTANDING, Philippians 1:9b-10a
…..abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent,
The knowledge or understanding Paul has in mind in verse 9 refers to full knowledge, or a growing knowledge, meaning a mature knowledge, and a knowledge that is able to make correct discernment.
Christian love is not blind! The heart and mind work together so that we have discerning love and loving discernment. Paul wants his friends to grow in discernment, in being able to “distinguish the things that are excellent.”
We should pray that our church will have the knowledge or understanding to make correct judgment between those things that are good and those that are evil. We should even pray that we will be able to discern between that which is good and that which is best.
Far too often the church today settles for second-class commitment and third-rate religion. Every successful business has a quality control department and the federal government has a Bureau of Standards. Our ministry will receive God’s stamp of approval only if it has been offered to Him saturated in prayer.
We pray at the opening of almost every class, worship service and committee meeting. Our deacons go to their knees at every meeting. Our church staff prays every week in prayer. But just how passionate are those prayers? We pray for 30 seconds and spend hours deliberating our perplexities.
We should be like Jacob who wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and said, “I will not let you go until you bless me!” (Genesis 32:26) God we too pray for an excellence in our understanding of what the will of God is for our church, for your guidance and your blessing!
III. PRAY THAT OUR CHURCH MAY HAVE AN ABSENCE OF OFFENSIVENESS, Philippians 1:10b
That you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
The word “sincere” here means that which is “pure, blameless or faultless.”
Sincere can also mean “genuine,” and may have originally meant “tested by sunlight.” In the ancient world, dishonest pottery dealers filled cracks in their inferior products with wax before glazing and painting them, making worthless pots difficult to distinguish from expensive ones. The only way to avoid being defrauded was to hold the pot to the sun, making the wax-filled cracks obvious. Dealers marked their fine pottery that could withstand “sun testing” as sine cera—”without wax.” “Without offense” can be translated “blameless,” referring to relational integrity. Christians are to live lives of true integrity that do not cause others to sin 
Now here’s a secret. You cannot pray for the church as a whole to experience an absence of offensiveness if you have offended or been offended. We must have both the courage and spiritual maturity to let our brother or sister know if we have been offended. We must also have enough strength to forgive and forget.
Have you offended someone, wither deliberately or unintentionally? If so, go to that person and ask forgiveness. If someone has offended you, he or she may not be aware of it. Take the initiative and clear the air. Pray for an absence of offensiveness.
IV. PRAY THAT OUR CHURCH MAY HAVE A FUTHERANCE OF FRUITFULNESS, Philippians 1:11,
11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
When the Bible speaks of spiritual fruit it usually means one of two things. Either the writer has in mind godly character development such as Paul’s reference to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; or the other thought is that of souls won to Christ.
Both kinds of fruitfulness are needed by the church today. But verse 11 refers to the fruit of righteousness. This might be better translated “the fruit righteousness produces.”
We are to pray that the members of our church will produce the fruit of righteousness that comes only by a growing, passionate, and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. That we will grow more and more like Him in godliness and holiness. As we do, we will draw others to Him and thus to ourselves.
Jesus said in John 15:8, By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Intercession on behalf of your church is both your right and responsibility. If you and I will pray for our church to be marked by these four wonderful traits; love, understanding, sensitivity and fruitfulness, God will be pleased and He will bless us with a mighty outpouring of His grace and power.
The great preacher of another century and place, Charles Haddon Spurgeon preached to crowds as large as 23,000 by turnstile count. In his ministry 10,800 were baptized. Once Spurgeon was showing some visitors over the London Tabernacle. After taking them to the main part of the building he said, “Come, and I’ll show you the heating apparatus.” Expecting to see the church’s boiler room, imagine the surprise on the faces of his guests when Spurgeon opened a basement door to reveal a room filled with more than four hundred members who were at that very moment on their knees praying for their church.
MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Php 1:10). Nashville: Word Pub.