– by Andrew Hess –
The Apostle Paul showed his love for people in many ways. His letters are full of teaching, correction, and even commands. But perhaps we too easily miss one of the threads running throughout his ministry, namely, how often he encouraged people with the specific prayers he regularly offered on their behalf.
D.A. Carson draws out several themes of Paul’s prayers in his excellent, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. In it, Carson challenges readers to seek “to find out exactly what it is he asks God for on their [the people he prays for] behalf, and compare the results with what we normally ask for.”
1. Paul thanked God for each one of his people.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you …” (Romans 1:8-10)
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus …” (1 Corinthians 1:4)
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers …” (Ephesians 1:16)
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy …” (Philippians 1:3-4)
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you …” (Colossians 1:3)
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers …” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3a)
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right …” (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.” (2 Timothy 1:3)
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers …” (Philemon 1:4)
2. Paul prayed for wisdom and knowledge.
“… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him …” (Ephesians 1:17)
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding …” (Colossians 1:9)