I believe that we serve a God Who cares deeply about every detail of our lives, and that He wants us to bring before Him every need that is on our hearts, both for ourselves and for others. In fact, one of the best ways that we can serve others is by praying for them! Recently I have been looking at some of the prayers of Paul with my 3rd grade class during our morning devotions, and it has been very instructing and challenging to me to be reminded anew of the things that I should be focusing on in my prayers, both for myself and for others. It is interesting that in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, there is a pattern in the prayers of Paul for those churches, as well as the things for which he requests their prayers. One thing that stands out is a desire for spiritual understanding of the Gospel and all that it means for believers, as well as for spiritual maturity, which seems to be directly linked to bearing fruit in Christlikeness (Eph. 1:17-19; 3:16-19; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-11; 4:12). The similarities between Phil. 1:9-11 and Col. 1:9-11 are especially striking! In both passages he prays that they be filled with knowledge and spiritual discernment, and that they grow in bearing the fruit of good works. Then in Colossians 4, he seems to get a little more specific as far as what that looks like. He prays in verses 3-6 for open doors to share the Gospel and exhorts the Colossians to walk in wisdom towards unbelievers, with gracious speech that is seasoned with salt, being always ready with how to answer anyone. Similarly, in Ephesians 6:19, he asks prayer for boldness in proclaiming the mystery of the Gospel.
It would seem then, at least in looking at these particular prayers of Paul, that we could summarize the things that he emphasizes as follows: praying for spiritual maturity for believers through a deeper understanding of the Gospel, and (could we say as a result?) open doors for sharing this Gospel with unbelievers. There are no greater things than these that we can and should be praying for ourselves and for those we love! As we learn to pray this way, we should look with expectation for what God will do in our lives and the lives of others!
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9-11
“And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” Eph. 6:19