“Grace is an outrageously relational term.”
– Dr. Ed Khouri
“How is the indwelling Spirit not relational?” – David Crabtree

Praying Paul – Paul Prays for the Philippian Believers with Thankfulness and Joy

He who began a good work in you will complete it.

Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians is a gem of a book. there is so much contained there that invites you to stop and ponder. How do we develop “the mind of Christ” (Phil 2)? How do we partner with God to allow Him to complete the work He starts in us? The answers to these questions will keep us focussed for the rest of our lives.

Paul leads the way with his shortish but powerful prayer in the first chapter of Philippians.
Let’s read the first part.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:2-6 (TNIV)

The latest Neuroscience observations teach us that the attitude of being grateful and thankful changes our relational circuits and switches them ON. Amazing! We need our “relational circuits” (RCs) on whenever we try to meaningfully engage with someone else. A normal and healthy life-practice with Christian believers is listening to God. He does speak to us really clearly when we approach Him with our “RCs” switched on. We relate to Him and He with us. How do we do that? Come to Him with our emotions quieted and our hearts full of thankfulness, and simply listen.

Paul gives us a great example here of switched-on relational circuits by saying to the Philippine believers that he “thanks God every time I remember you.” (vs 3)

Joy is defined by Dr. Jim Wilder, in his book Joy Start Here, as “being with people who are happy to be with you.

What a great description of what a gathering of Christ’s people is all about. Joy needs to be the chief characteristic of your people being together. You know that they are “your people” because they are happy to be with you, and you are happy to be with them.

If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!

“So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12 (TPT)

“I always pray with joy…”

What a wonderful example for us. Praying with joy. Praying while our relational circuits are on. Praying while we are in deep connection with God and our people. Paul continues by offering great words of encouragement.

And then he concludes…

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.“ – Phil 1:7-11 (TNIV)

Action Items

  1. Quiet yourself. Close your eyes and take long, slow, deep breaths. (6-8 breaths)
  2. Think of a joyful memory. Thank God for it. It may a person, an experience, or being grateful to God.
  3. Read through Philippians 1:2-11 again. Read it slowly, pondering the key sections.
  4. Close your eyes and ask God what He thinks of you. Listen.
  5. Express thankfulness and gratitude.
  6. Close and enjoy a moment or two of restfulness.

Grace and peace to you!

David Crabtree
Author: David Crabtree

David has spent more than 30 years in Senior Leadership, and is the founding senior pastor of DaySpring Church (Sydney) where he led for 27 years. He is currently living in Highlands Ranch (Denver), Colorado where he is a teacher, preacher and author. He is married to Narelle (also a senior pastor) and has 2 children with 6 grandchildren. Life's good! David and Narelle are also members of the Bethel Leaders Network (BLN) and have a role as BLN Builders.