During the American War for Independence, John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers, corresponded with his wife Abigail, and thankfully their letters back & forth have been preserved for us. They are full of humor, and history, and love. In one of them, John Adams closes with a prayer: “May God Almighty’s Providence protect you, my dear, and all our little ones. My … Guardian Angel whispers me, that We shall see happier Days, and that I shall live to enjoy the Felicities of domestic Life, with her whom my Heart esteems above all earthly Blessings.”
That was a sweet prayer of blessing from John Adams to Abigail. And our scripture passage for today contains another sweet prayer, from the Apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, that he loved so much. He really did LOVE these people. He said in :7 “I feel this way about you”; he said, “I have you in my heart”; he said in :8, “I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” So he really loved these people. And because he loved them, he prayed so much for them. And we too, will really pray for the people that we love. Prayer is surely one of the greatest indicators of godly love.
But what should we pray for those we love? Prayers can take many forms, but Paul turns around in the next verses and shows us what HE prayed for the Philippians; and it can teach us something about what we should pray for OUR loved ones — as well as what God is trying to work into our lives spiritually:
“For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
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.”