1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians
3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
The power of prayer is talked about quite often, from authors to preachers, spiritual speakers right down to conversations among friends and people of faith.
Many wonder what is the right way to pray, as it sometimes seems like it is a mysterious skill of the clergy and the pious. Us ‘regular’ people often question whether or not we are praying correctly.
When people have asked me about how to pray, I have told them that as long as they are not praying for actual harm to come to someone else, they are pretty much doing it correctly. There is no time limit for prayer, we can pray as often as we need to, and for whatever we want or need; it is okay (and normal) for us to ask God for things (even if we sometimes feel like kids making a list for Santa Claus) …but for me, it helps to end my prayer with “thy will and not mine be done”, as a way of reminding myself that I do not always know what is best, and when all is said and done I need to have faith that God does know what is best!
As a single parent, and as the parent of someone who has had addiction issues there are times when praying for God’s will to be done instead of mine has taken a lot of faith!
In terms of my daughter, I want her to be happy and healthy and to lead a productive life…and of course I have my own ideas of how that should happen, and how she should be living her life…but things don’t always work out the way I would like them to, as she is her own person, and has her own Higher Power, which is NOT me!
While I know that I am not her Higher Power, it is still difficult for me to trust my daughter to the care of God’s grace…especially when things are not going the way that I would like them too: when I am worried because she is out too late and is not answering her phone or texts, when she is with friends that I do not trust, when she comes home and I know that she has been acting in ways that I do not approve of, or when her behavior has put her in the Emergency Room or the back of a squad car. It is at times like these when I want to tell God to do things my way – and I do say those prayers, but I always end my pleas by saying “thy will, not mine be done”.
It is a very simple ending…and a simple yet honest prayer – but also one that is very hard to say in times of trouble or fear! Yet it is exactly at those times that this simple prayer is the most important!
It is when I am worried about my daughter, and am not sure what to do, that the best thing for me to do is turn the situation over to the care of our loving God, and to have the faith to make myself trust that God is watching over her, and me, and will see us through! Often, I need help to have such faith, and that is when reaching out to others for support can make all the difference…whether it is another parent, a family member, a friend, my girlfriend or a professional, connecting with another person can give me the strength and hope to deal with whatever I am going through, with the comfort of knowing that I am not alone, that others understand the trouble I am facing, as they have faced similar issues in the past!
While prayer and the support of others can help us to have the faith to get through the hard times, in our lives and give us hope, there are times when all the faith in the world, all the hope and all the prayers cannot save someone we love and care about. It would be wonderful to be able say that God’s love and presence in our lives is a guarantee that the worst will never happen, but I cannot…so where does this leave us in terms of our faith and the power or prayer in our lives?
It actually leaves us in a good place: in the care of God’s love for us! Even when the worst happens, God is still watching over us…weeping with us when life is unfair, or down-right painful, supporting us with love, and surrounding us with grace and the promise of new life, the promise of hope out of hopelessness. There is comfort in knowing that God is always with us, either through the spirit, or through others…and comfort in knowing that through Christ God really does know our pain!
It is this comfort that can help us to get through the tough times, and which can also give us something to celebrate when times are better…as we can share our hope and faith with those who have helped us with our fears, and worries, it feels good to let those who have helped us know that things have improved and that the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT always a train, but the light of Christ that shines brightly from the open tomb of Easter morning!
Let Us Pray:
God, thank you for knowing and sharing both our joys and our pains! Help us to not be reluctant to share with others in our lives, to ask for help when needed, and to offer help when we can! Please help us when the days grow dark and hope seems far away…let us always remember that we can never be separated from you love, and are never truly alone! Help us to remember to pray and to have faith in your grace as we raise our children and face the challenges of life…help us to remember that we do these things together…and that it is together that we all walk in the light of the risen Christ.