Prayers For The Church – Week 1

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WEEK 1: Prayers of Thanks
READ: Philippians 1:3-6
MEMORY VERSE: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3)

One prayer that Paul prayed consistently for almost every church to which he wrote was thanksgiving. He thanked God for the churches—not just for their support of him—but for their commitment to God and all that they were doing to further the Gospel and build God’s kingdom. He even thanked God for the churches to whom he was writing to correct their behavior. They didn’t have to have it all together for Paul to be grateful for them.

The Philippian church financially supported Paul and his missionary work more than the other churches (Philippians 4:14-19), but that’s not the only reason he is thankful for them. He remembers them with joy (1:4) and holds them in his heart (1:7). He yearns for them with the affection of Christ (1:8) and prays for their love to abound more and more (1:9). As I think about our newhope family, I couldn’t say it any better. This family of God brings memories of joy, holds a special place in my heart, and it is my prayer for our love to abound more and more.

The Greek word for “affection” in this context was used when talking about very intense emotions. It literally means “intestines”, so figuratively, it meant loving someone to the very deepest part of you. These are the words of a spiritual father who loves his people dearly and only wants God’s best for them. There is an intimacy of deep love “in Christ”—the kind of love that binds church family even more deeply together than a biological family. This is what Paul is thankful for: their love in Christ and their relationship with him.

Yes, he is thankful for their support of his mission, but it’s not really his mission. It’s the mission of Christ – their shared mission. This is what binds them together as the body of Christ, just as our shared mission at newhope to Reach, Teach, and Release binds us together as a family; one church in many locations. They have all committed their whole lives to work together for the same mission. In some ways, they are like a sports team or a band or a group of actors all bonded together with the same goal, except this is their whole life’s mission. This is the same thing that binds all of us together as Christ’s body all over the world. This is why you can meet another believer for the first time, whether in your city or on the other side of the globe—from another country with another language—and immediately feel like brothers and sisters. Because we are all one body in Christ.

QUESTION: How have you personally experienced a church body that is closer than family?
QUESTION: What things make you thankful for your Christian family from current and past churches?

YOUR PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING:

– Thank God for individual church friends who feel like family. Thank Him for people who support and encourage you, pray for you, check in on you, hold you accountable, and join together with you in our shared life mission. Pray thanksgiving for each by name and specify ways they have touched your life.

– Thank God for your newhope family as a whole. Thank God that there is diversity in the body of Christ and that everyone is there for a purpose, to do their part in the body. Pray for unity across the newhope movement; pray for patience in dealing with one another with love and thank God that you have a community in which to grow.

– Thank God for the Church universal in our communities. Thank Him that there are different churches who are all able to serve the community in different ways. Pray for all of these churches to find ways to work together as one body in our communities. Thank God that we have the liberty to gather freely and worship in our country.

– Thank God for the Church universal, all around the world, and for all of the different ways that God’s body is working globally. Pray for members of the body who are serving the poor, taking care of the sick, reaching out to the lonely, hurting and suffering, and sharing the Gospel.

– Take some time to thank God for all of the believers who have been influential in your walk with Jesus throughout your whole life. This includes parents, friends, mentors, teachers, pastors, anyone. Pray for God to help you to be influential in other people’s lives for the Gospel.

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