Thursday, 1 December 2016
…always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, Philippians 1:4
This verse continues from the previous one. Taken together, they read –
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy…”
Paul is writing to the congregation as a whole, but his words are directed to each person individually. As he contemplated the congregation that he had come to love, each individual would come to mind and he would thank God for them as noted in verse 3. However, there was more that would come from these thoughts. He was including them “always in every prayer” which he made. In those prayers, he says to them that he is “making request for you all with joy.”
The word translated as both “prayer” and “request” in this verse is the same word, deésis. It means a “heart-felt petition, arising out of deep personal need (sense of lack, want)” (HELPS Word Studies).
And so the thought would read – “…always in every supplication of mine making supplication for you all with joy.” In other words, these weren’t general prayers that were going up. Instead, he contemplated the needs of each one of his fellow believers, and he would include that need in his plea. “Lord, look after Kristinius as she takes care of her family;” “Oh God, Sergious Paulos needs Your hand with him at the brick factory;” and etc.
This would have been the constant practice of Paul, remembering those he loved, praying for them, and doing so “with joy.” This is the first of five times that chara, or joy, is used by Paul. It indicates “… properly, the awareness (of God’s) grace, favor; joy (“grace recognized”) (HELPS Word Studies). From its frequent use, “joy” is considered the main them of the epistle. The scholar Bengel notes then that, “This epistle on joy aptly follows that to the Ephesians, where love reigns… The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy. Joy particularly gives animation to prayers.”
As Paul is writing from a Roman prison, it is a remarkable thing that he speaks so much of joy. His circumstances would be otherwise bleak and miserable. But with the thought of his beloved family in Philippi always on his mind, he remained filled with joy. He was able to redirect his thoughts to the needs of others, petitioning God for them, wisely using his time while incarcerated.
Life application: Joy is something which is not difficult to obtain when one knows the Lord Jesus. No matter how bad the circumstances which surround us may be, when we have the full confidence of the many great and enduring promises of Scripture, we can be filled with joy even when in completely miserable surroundings or circumstances. Let us keep our hearts, eyes, and thoughts on the Lord, and so transcend the difficulties which come our way.
Heavenly Father, there are many ways of finding pleasure, but there are so few ways of finding true joy. But thanks be to You for sending Christ Jesus. In Him, we can have true joy, even when our surroundings are completely miserable. Pleasure may be lacking, pain may fill our bodies, and trials may afflict us in our souls, and yet we can still have a sense of joy because of our hope which is grounded in Him. It is a hope which transcends this world, and which elevates us to a wonderful place where the world cannot harm us. Thank You for the joy which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.