His beloved Philippians were going through serious persecution and Paul himself languished in a Roman prison, unsure whether he’d be executed or released.
Interceding for the Philippian believers, Paul could have prayed for many things:
That they would be safe.
That their needs would be met.
That their persecution would end.
That their church would double in size.
That they could break ground on a new building.
But instead, Paul prayed for their love.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…(Philippians 1:9)
The Philippian church had already demonstrated some pretty selfless love. And yet, Paul prayed that their love would abound even more. It’s a picture of love that is continually overflowing, like the cascading water of a tiered fountain that flows and flows and flows without end.This isn’t some emotional feeling generated by trying harder or stirred up with good praise music. This isn’t a passion felt on Sunday that fades by Friday. That kind of emotion cannot hold when we’re facing real difficulty.
Paul knew the secret of a thriving Christian wasn’t for God to remove the difficulty but for God to grow their love.
The prayer in trials and difficulty isn’t easier circumstances but deeper love.
How I loved God as a 15-year-old, when I begged Him to change me and could feel His peace wash over me.
But that was nothing compared to how much I loved God as young mom, diving into my first Bible studies and daily clinging to Him for wisdom, patience and forgiveness in raising kids.
And all of that pales in comparison to how, as a sudden widow, I fell in love with God all over again. His Word has been my delight, He has daily lifted my head and He has so tenderly and personally taken care of us.
In our whole lifetime, we cannot begin to plumb the depth of our love relationship with God.
When we find ourselves struggling or facing a huge need, we can ask God to help us through or meet the need. But let’s not miss asking God to change us in the circumstance. Let’s pray that God will grow our love for him more and more right in the midst of the difficulty.