Before you begin, take a few moments to quiet your mind and prepare your heart to receive God’s Word. Read the following passage at least twice, and then pray through the points below.
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Read the passage above again, and take a few moments to reflect on Paul's tone and language. What do they tell you about his relationship to the saints in Philippi? Think about those who will answer the call to go to the nations. Earnestly pray over those men, women, and children the same prayer that Paul prayed over the Phillipians (1:3-6, 8-10). Let us regularly come back to this prayer and be faithful to pray it for those sent out from among us.
Paul's love for the Philippian church is clear. Throughout his letter, he address them as "my beloved" and "my brothers," and he knows the names of individual saints. He is eager to send Epaphroditus to them, and he longs for their joy. Paul continuously encourages and exhorts the church and desires "fruit that increases to [their] credit" (4:17). Let this be our model for sending and supporting our goers to the nations. Pray that God would raise up many in our church to advocate and care for goers. Pray we would make it a priority to love them by meeting spiritual and physical needs. Pray that God would give us the same heart for our goers that Paul had for the Philippian church.
Paul writes that his imprisonment served to advance the gospel. In other words, people were emboldened to share the gospel even more because of Paul's imprisonment. This is a very different way of thinking about being persecuted for the sake of Christ than the way our culture might think about it. Pray that God would give us Paul's perspective when suffering and persecution come. Pray that we would see tangible fruit and rejoice together. Ask God to make us a church that prays without ceasing for those who are suffering for the sake of Christ, that they may be encouraged and strengthened, and that our faith may increase.