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Prayer and Petition: For Ourselves?

[Author’s note: Blurb below for those with “little time”. For full benefits, obviously, you’ll have to read the whole thing. I put especially good thought cycles into this.]

So I posted earlier about the verse prior to the ABC passage last week, as I was already familiar with the meaning of the verse in the main passage. I’ve been thinking about the passage this week and I have some additional thoughts.

Last week’s passage:

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6–7)

This week’s passage:

And my God will meet all your needs
according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

The Concept of Discipline

Last semester I was introduced to the concept of discipline. Feel free to skip if you already are familiar with the term “discipline” as Richard Foster in his Celebration of Discipline — a fine book, by the way — defines it.

So what is a “Discipline?”

A discipline does not make you holy. It places you, when done with the right intentions, in a position for God to change you. There’s an underlying attitude hanging around that I do X because God arbitrarily wants me to, as opposed to one that God wants me to for my own sake.

Illustration of Discipline

I’ll use an illustration of a parent and a child. Parent wants Child to eat his vegetables. Child protests saying that Parent is being too strict. *pause*

Why is the parent telling the child to eat his vegetables? Because the parent wants to be strict? Is it for the parent’s sake? No. The parent commands the child to eat the vegetables for the child’s sake, not his own sake. The parent, for his own benefit, does not need the vegetables eaten by the Child.

Applying it to the ABC Passage

In the same way, I say that “[presenting] your requests to God” is a discipline as well. Keep Reading…

[Author’s note: because I feel this part is so important, I’m putting the last part here as well.]

Food for Thought

Now that I know that the highest, ultimate purpose of our prayers is for us to be changed more like Christ, not for us to be granted requests,

  • How should I pray differently?
    • I’ve been suggested this device for my prayers (Credit: Kai, who read a book on this): ACTS, in that order, for structuring my prayers.
    • Adoration: Praise God for who He is, what He’s done, etc.
    • Confession: Confess any sins, failures, apathy, etc. Unconfessed sin will hinder your fellowship (and often communication) with God.
    • Thanksgiving: Thank God for salvation, for forgiveness, for who He is, etc.
    • Supplication: When you place your “wishlist” for things last, you shift your focus off of your problems and onto how great, awesome, caring, capable, loving our God is. This will put your problems in a truer perspective. How small are most of our requests when compared with the task of pursuing holiness & glorification of God!
  • What are some things that I should start praying for?
  • What are some things that I should shift my prayer focus away from?


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