SCRIPTURE: Philippians 1:1-11
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.
Prayer is a very powerful thing. It is the primary way that we communicate with God. We can do it alone or with others. We can do it aloud or quietly in our hearts and minds. Paul’s prayer here for the Philippians served three purposes. First, it was a genuine and heartfelt prayer that he lifted to God. But second, it was also was encouraging and uplifting to the readers and hearers. Paul’s teaching and guidance, even at a distance as he was imprisoned, was important to the continued development and growth of the early church. And then third, this prayer gave the Philippians an example of prayer that they could follow and learn from. Not that this is the only way to pray, but it is one of many and would help them in their growth.
Have you ever heard of the A.C.T.S. prayer guide? A.C.T.S. stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Adoration also means praise. Confession is about our sins. Thanksgiving is for the things we are grateful for. And Supplication also means petition, or where we bring our requests for the needs of others and ourselves to God. If you are ever struggling to find the words to pray, try to remember A.C.T.S. and follow this simple, but powerful prayer outline.
(ADORATION) Loving and merciful God, you alone are our refuge and strength. You never leave us, even when we have turned from you. In times of trouble and times of prosperity, you are always with us.
(CONFESSION) But God we know that we have fallen short of the perfection that you require. Even in isolation and social distancing, we still struggle to love our neighbors. We too often turn away from you. We forget to pray. We forget to read Scripture. We forget to continue to work to grow in relationship with you. Forgive us God.
(THANKSGIVING) We give you thanks God of blessings for the many things we take for granted. We give you thanks for the medical professionals working to heal people and fight this virus. We give you thanks for the retail employees who continue to work diligently to help us have access to food and resources. We give you thanks for everyone who is working so hard to help us be able to continue to function in these challenging and difficult time.
(SUPPLICATION) Loving God, we lift to you now the many things that are weighing upon our hearts and minds. We pray for those who are ill. We pray for those in mourning. We pray for those who are struggling to have enough to eat. We pray for those who are isolated from their family and friends. We pray for the leaders all around the world, that they might work together for the benefit of all humanity and creation. We pray for one another, for whatever things may be weighing heavily upon us. In the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.