We find a beautiful prayer of Paul's for the Philippians in chapter 1, verses 9 -11:
"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things which are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
This prayer comes straight from the heart of God. In praying this prayer for the Philippians, Paul puts himself squarely on God’s side, aligning himself with God’s purpose for their lives. He is asking only for the things that God has revealed that He longs to do in the hearts of the Philippians, as well as the things that He longs to do for them. God's word makes it clear that He desires to do the very same things in and for us as well.
Much is revealed to us in Philippians about love and joy. We also pick up these two themes in the words of Jesus, spoken to His disciples immediately before His arrest and crucifixion in John 15:9:
“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you”
Paul is joining in this prayer, and we too can make it our own. This is a scripture prayer that we can pray for ourself and for those we love, knowing that in praying it, we are choosing to align ourself with God’s own purpose and plan. When we pray this prayer, we are saying, “Dear God, what I desire for my life is Your will. I stand with You, wanting what You want, desiring what You will. I am One with You in the intent and purpose of my heart.”
Now, let us examine the first Part of Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9: “And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”
First, let us look carefully at the word love. Whereas in English, we have one word for love; in the Greek, there are three words for love. One is “eros”, from which comes our word “erotic”. It refers to sensual love, sexual love.
The second Greek word is phileo. It holds within it the meaning of being a friend to, of being fond of, of having affection for. Love, as referred to in this word, is a matter of sentiment or feeling, a matter of the heart.
However, the Greek word that Paul uses here is the word agape. This word is used to refer to the LOVE OF GOD. When we read that God is love, agape is the word that is used. When we read that God so loved the world, agape is again used in the Greek.
Agape love involves not only the heart, but the intellect as well. It is love that is of the heart and the head. It is love that involves the mind, the soul, and the entire being. When we speak of this love involving the intellect, we need to understand that in this Greek word, there lies the meaning of loving as a matter of judgment, with the full and deliberate assent of the will. So, this is not a love that loves because it feels good to love, but love that is the result of a judgment or decision to love, a determination to love, a will to love. It is love in thought, love in feeling, and love in will.
Agape love is the full expression of love. It is all that love can be. All that love is, is expressed through agape love. Agape love is, in fact, the love of God.
This is the love that Paul is praying for here. This is not a prayer that God will make the Philippians more loving. This prayer goes far beyond praying that God will show them how to love or that God will teach them how to love. The prayer is that God will fill their hearts with His love, so that God Himself can actually love others through them.
In Romans 5:5, we read, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Don’t pray and ask God to help you be more loving. God is not interested in helping you be more loving. Don’t pray and ask God to teach you how to love. God is not interested in teaching you how to love.
When you pray, put yourself squarely on God’s side. Pray with a realization that only God Himself is able to place HIS LOVE for others in your heart: “Loving Heavenly Father, fill me with Your love. Love others through me. God, love my husband through me. Love my children through me, Love my friends through me. Oh Lord, love the world through me. In the powerful name of Jesus, so be it.”
As we place our life in line with His purposes and plans, our prayers will be answered beyond our wildest expectations. May agape love abound!