A Prayer for Effectiveness
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 4-7
This prayer shows Paul praying for his friend and brother in Christ Philemon. The letter to Philemon was simply to Philemon. It was not to any church or group, this was a letter to a friend. Philemon, lived in Colosse and because of the way the letter starts out we know the Philemon was a beloved friend to Paul. In most of Paul’s letters he refers to himself as an apostle. However in Philemon, as well as Philippians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Paul does not refer to himself as an apostle, so he is writing more as a friend than an apostle.
So this prayer was for his friend, Philemon. Paul was also imprisoned in Rome when he wrote this letter but apparently someone brought him news of his friend Philemon. Paul starts his prayer thanking God for Philemon’s love for Jesus and then for Philemon’s love for “all the saints”. Philemon was apparently living for Jesus and in so doing was showing love to other christians as well. I think that it is apparent, that the more you love Jesus the more you love His people. Paul was grateful that Philemon’s love for Jesus and for other people was apparent.
Philemon was also apparently sharing Christ. Now I may be wrong but I find no evidence where Philemon was a minister by any vocation. From what I see Philemon was just a man, who was living for Christ, and was sharing his faith to other people. We can learn a lot from Philemon with this prayer. I think sometimes we get caught up in the job of sharing faith being a job for the vocational ministers and missionaries. But when we become Christians, it is all of our job to share our faith! It appears that Philemon got that and that he was sharing his faith just for the sake of Christ. Paul was praying for the effectiveness of Philemon’s message to others. We can learn to be more like Philemon and share but we can also follow Paul’s example and pray for others that we see walking the Christian walk and sharing their faith.
Paul points out that Philemon’s life is a blessing to him. Paul says he has received love and comfort from Philemon, simply because he has seen and heard about the ways Philemon met the needs of other Christians. It sounds to me like Philemon was not just a friend to Paul, but he was a friend whose life was a blessing to others and a blessing to Paul. I am thinking of a few friends I have whose lives are a blessing to me and to others. I want to always remember those people in my prayers and I want to be that kind of friend too.
Lord may it be so!