Sunday, June 02, 2013

Praying For Improvement

Praying for spiritual growth is a great way to bless your friends and neighbors.

Spiritual Growth

Ephesians 1:15-19  Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God's people everywhere,  16  I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,  17  asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.   

18  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called--His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe Him.

The ultimate church planter was probably the Apostle Paul, his strategy for planting new churches is an example that is still valid today, God used Paul to get the message about Jesus out of Israel and spread it around the world.

Paul was happy to learn that his church plant had developed a strong faith but he didn't believe that they had arrived. Paul knew that there is always room for improvement and that the pagan culture around them could easily distort the truth of the gospel and lead this new church astray.

These new Christians needed to:

✔ Grow in their knowledge of God.
✔ Realize the hope that we have in Jesus.
✔ Learn about God's great power.
✔ Understand what God's will is.

As we become more mature in our faith and understanding of God the easier it will be to live in a manner that pleases him. The new disciples had to get beyond the basics and get to know God better, just having enough knowledge about God to understand the good news of Jesus work on the cross isn't enough, there needs to be a discipleship process.

Paul was concerned about planting churches but he didn't just plant them and take off down the road, he also worked to make disciples, often times he left his coworkers behind or he sent letters to help clarify doctrine but most importantly he prayed for them.

Maturity produces obedience.

Colossians 1:9-10  So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.  10  Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
What a great way to help the people that we know, to pray for their spiritual needs instead of concentrating on their physical needs, it is amazing that we are content to pray for the temporary instead of the eternal.

The greatest need that we have after our salvation is to become more like our Savior. To see the world through his eyes, to react to situations the way that he would, to put others before ourselves the way that he did.
Of course the right attitude is necessary when praying for somebody else to grow spiritually. If you are praying for them because you have judged them and decided that they "really" need improvement then you need to be careful. Don't forget the parable about "mister log eye."

No matter how faithful and spiritual we become we will never reach perfection and we will still need somebody that will go beyond praying for our temporary needs. What an awesome way to help our friends and neighbors. I need to pray for what really matters in the lives of the people all around me, those people that know the Lord already and for those that still need to know him.