In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes “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 until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
When I first read this verse today, I thought – “Wow, what would it be like if I prayed for fellow Christians like that?” I mean, that’s a really good prayer. I personally have enough trouble praying in general, much less praying for others. But I think aside from the general prayers for health, safety, etc, I find myself unsure of what to pray for others – especially those that I do not have specific prayer requests for. Lately, I’ve been frequently reminded of the value and importance of people in our lives – not just fellow Christians, but other meaningful non-Christian relationships as well. I am so abundantly encouraged and uplifted by the people God has blessed me with and when I read verses like this, it reminds me how Paul so dearly loved his brother and sisters in Christ, and often prayed such heartfelt, simple, and encouraging prayers for them.
Prayer is not easy – I mean, you’d think it would be – it’s just talking to God, right? But it’s not that simple – it’s involves making the effort to seamlessly and constantly cast our daily anxieties on him, confess our sins, give him thanks, ask him for guidance, and so much more. It’s really quite overwhelming sometimes. So lately, I’ve not only been convicted of not praying enough from a personal perspective, but I have not at all devoted enough time to praying for others either.
But anyway, as I was reading this verse again, I thought about this part: “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight”. That really got my attention – mainly because we are immersed in a culture that defines love as a feeling, an emotional experience. For example – being “in love” is often equated with being foolish, careless, and unreasonable. But here, Paul emphasizes how important it is to have a love that is knowledgeable and insightful – and why? because the wiser we are in regards to what love is and how to really love unconditionally, the more effective our love will be. That’s why it’s almost ironic that people often say “I can’t decide between my head and my heart” or, people make decisions based on what their “heart” is telling them to do, rather than what their head says. But, in this verse, it seems like our heart and our mind are connected, aren’t they? How can we make decisions about love if we don’t even know what love really is? How can we separate our head from our heart? We can’t. And if we try to separate the two, then we need to consider whether or not our love is real, or it is simply emotionally and selfishly driven.