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“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”—Philippians 1:9–11 (NKJV)
In this passage, Paul makes a transition in his letter to the Philippian Church. He moves from his introduction and declaration of his love for the Philippians to expressing a very specific prayer for them. And as we will see, this prayer penned by Paul for the Philippians is also a prayer that reaches across the centuries to us, as well.
First, Paul prays the Philippian’s love would grow. By “love,” we aren’t talking about an earthly affection. It’s not a “birds of a feather flock together” sort of situation. Instead, he’s praying for an increase in the supernatural “agape” type of love. This love is unconditional and comes to us directly from God, Himself. Notice how Paul puts this at the head of his prayer list, which reminds us that in the Christian life nothing is more important than love. Love makes everything else fall into its proper place. And if we’re going to do anything well, we need to love well!
Paul then prays the Philippian’s knowledge would grow. As strong as the Philippians were in their understanding of the Lord and faith, there was still room to grow. In a wonderful way, the Christian is always a student. There’s always something new for us to learn about our eternal and infinite God. Ours is a lifestyle of discovery, and as we discover more and more about the Lord, we grow closer to Him.
Next, Paul prays the Philippian’s discernment would grow. There’s a logical progression in this prayer because discernment is the practical application of spiritual knowledge. It’s taking spiritual information and truth and then putting it to use in the real-world scenarios of life. We make our decisions about things based on what we discern about them. This is why there are those who have a lot of knowledge and yet their lives are in shambles. They have the data, but lack the discernment on how to use it to their advantage. Paul wanted something so much better for the Philippians, which is why he prays for an increase in discernment. This would allow them to approve of what was right and live sincerely and unoffensively in the eyes of God.
Lastly, Paul prays the Philippian’s fruitfulness would grow. The fruit he’s referring to is the Christ-like character that comes from being connected to Him. We can’t help but be reminded of Christ’s promise that all those who abide in Him will also be fruitful (John 15:5). Jesus is saying those who are in Him will also be like Him, and that’s the very outcome Paul is praying for here—that they would grow more and more like Jesus, which results in our main mission here on the earth which is to glorify God!
What Paul wanted for the Philippians the Lord wants for us. He wants us to grow in love, knowledge, discernment, and fruitfulness. May we continue growing according to God’s will as He continues His good work in us!
Pause: What four areas of growth did Paul pray for the Philippians and why are each important?
Practice: Look at your own spiritual life and determine how you are growing and how might change things to allow for greater growth in these areas.
Pray: Father, You are so faithful to grow Your children. Help us to submit to the growth process You have for us. Help us to grow in the things that are good for our relationship with You and others, and may we live in a state of ongoing abundance. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.