As a church, we are studying Philippians during Lent. The study I led recently was concentrating on Paul’s prayer to this church that he planted and enjoyed a deep ongoing relationship with.
Phil 1 v1-11 Paul prays for them often and with joy. They have grasped what it is to be church, to think Kingdom and be partners in the gospel. They have benefited from Paul’s teaching and character and he has benefited from their gifts and especially Epaphroditis’ visit (ch 4) during his time of hardship.
His prayer for them (v9-11) is revealing. When we pray for our church members, what do we pray for? Paul doesn’t pray for health, protection and blessing as we mainly do, but he is more concerned with the state of their souls. He prays that they may love more, get to know God better and that they may be able to ‘discern what is best’, living a life that is pure, blameless and fruitful.
The NIV says ‘discern what is best’, the AMP says ‘discern what is vital’ and the CEB says ‘know what really matters.’ ‘Vital’ implies those things which bring life, not death, but I like the translation ‘know what really matters.’ In the grand scheme, in the BIG picture, what REALLY matters? To you, to me, to God?
Here are my thoughts:
1. People coming to faith
2. Living a Christ centered life, knowing who I am in Christ and following my calling
3. Allowing God to hone our character
4. Expressing heaven values to people generally through the church.
Maybe you have a different list or have things in a different order – do let me know!
BUT beware of things in church life distracting you from what REALLY matters.