At our weekly Tuesday morning prayer meetings I am staggered at how quickly the time passes. An hour in prayer seems just like a few minutes! I am also staggered by the love and faithfulness of our God. I stand amazed that He bothers to listen to the faltering words of a few people and, not only this, but amazingly answers these requests time and time again. Prayer is such a blessing yet I still find it difficult! Why is this? Why do I struggle to concentrate in prayer when I am alone? Why am I sidetracked? And when I do pray, what do I pray for? Prayer does not come easily for me and for most people too. There always seems to be a hurdle that I must jump before rich times of communion with God becomes a reality. Often that hurdle is spiritual dryness that is brought on by forgetfulness of what awaits me. More often than I care to admit I forget what is best and most excellent.
Paul in his prayer to the Philippian Christians prays a most wonderful prayer. He prays that their love may abound more and more with knowledge and discernment. As I meditated on this prayer I began to see that Paul gives us clues as to what is important for us Christians. Paul brings us back to what is really important and more precisely what is best. This is his first clue. We are to pray for ‘what is best’ when we seek to serve others through loving actions. Love must be intelligent and morally discerning in order for it to be genuine. The second clue he gives us helps us to see the long term view. We are to pray with the ‘end’ in mind. This end is the coming of Jesus on what we call ‘the Day of the Lord’. What happens on this Day is what should drive our prayers as well as service to others!
The third clue is an important one for us to remember. All that we do must point others to God. Sadly, there are many who strive for perfectionism in their service. This is not possible this side of heaven. There is a difference between ‘what is best’ and ‘perfectionism’. Perfectionism focusses on the individual and places enormous strain on the person (and other team members) to achieve and have success. Paul sees it differently. The focus should always be on God. It is to bring glory and praise to Him. O how refreshing this is for people like me who have limited abilities and talents. My task is to point people to Jesus by praying for ‘what is best’ as I seek to grow in faith and love and as I try to serve others with this abounding love Paul says we are to possess!