Philippians 1:4 The Pleasure of Prayer

 Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

Pertinent Verses

ü     Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail.  It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have confidence in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3: 20-25
ü     But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.  Matthew 6:5-8 NASB
ü     I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19

ü     With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints… Ephesians 6:18

Verse Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Prayer
  3. Inclusiveness in Prayer: Doctrine of Prayer

1. Introduction

As we continue our study of Paul’s prayer, we need to take up two introductory considerations.  The first deals with the structure of the original language of the text.  We can better understand this verse if we understood it as being parenthetical. Some theologians do not consider this to be parenthetical, and for good reasons.  I’m not sure that Paul, when dictating this letter to Timothy, who functioned as his secretary, thought in terms of formal written sentence construction.  What is important are the words he spoke and what they mean.  The meaning of this verse doesn’t change whether you interpret it parenthetically or otherwise.  I interpret this verse parenthetically because reading from verse three to five reads very smoothly.  At this point we will ignore the parenthesis issue, study verse 4 with its accompanying principles and doctrines, then deal with the parenthesis issue later.
The second issue of introduction deals with the subject of this verse, which is prayer.  Generally speaking, most people do not associate prayer with pleasure or even consider it to be fun.  Certainly, it is hard work because it takes concentration, thought and mental organization. However, we will note that Paul takes great pleasure in his prayer life.  Your prayer life should be fulfilling and a great pleasure as well.  But, how often do believers sit down or even lay down with an agenda for prayer from their prayer list and be fast asleep before they even begin to thank God for His graciousness, provision and plan!  Fortunately, God reads our souls! He is omniscient, knowing your every thought long before you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye.  He has read and understood what you would have prayed had you maintained your vigilant wakefulness.  Furthermore, had you named your sins to the Father before you fell asleep then you can be confident that you spent the night being filled with the Spirit, logging time in the Spirit, which is rewarded. Now this is grace!
Getting back to our point here; prayer takes effort, not only because it requires great concentration but also because praying correctly is complex.  As a matter of fact, even the simplest prayer, the cry for help, requires correct procedure.  The bottom line is this: we need to learn how to pray.  We need to learn prayer mechanics if we are going to prayer effectively. There is a right way and a wrong way to pray. No prayer offered apart from Biblical mechanics, presented in the Word, is either effective or heard. For all practical purposes, if you offer any prayer outside of the protocol presented in the Word, that prayer is going to bounce off the ceiling.  Any prayer beyond, “Help me, Father!” or a confession prayer, naming your sins to the Father, requires that you reach a certain point in your spiritual growth.
Both pleasure and effectiveness in prayer require spiritual growth. The greater your spiritual maturity, the more effective, the more dynamic and the greater pleasure your prayer life will be.  Dynamic, effective and pleasurable prayer belongs to believers in the various stages of spiritual maturity.

2. Prayer

Now, let us begin our exegesis of verse 4.  The first phrase, as the NASB translators have written, reads thusly: “always in my every prayer…”  The Greek looks like this, πάντοτε ν πάσ δεήσει μου PANTOTE EN PASE DESEI MOU.  This first phrase begins with πάντοτε PANTOTE, an adverb of time, best translated, “always,” or “at all times.”  This is followed by the preposition ν EN, followed by a word in the locative, so translated, “in.”  Often the case of the word after a preposition will change or alter the meaning of the preceding preposition.
Next is the adjective πάς PAS. Here it is in the locative feminine singular form, grammatically: πάσ PASE.  Syntactically, it is a locative of sphere.  The locative case generally indicates a particular point, geographically, a point in time, or a point in a succession of events.  But this locative is a figurative expression, indicating a logical sphere, hence the translation, “every.”  Next is the noun δεήσει DESEI, in the same locative feminine singular, also a locative of sphere, referring to prayer.  This noun of course, continues this prepositional phrase.  The final word in this prepositional phrase, the personal pronoun μου MOU is derived from EGO, the pronoun, “I.”  Grammatically, EGO is in the genitive form, first person singular.  Syntactically it is a possessive pronoun translated, “of mine.”  Our translation thus far reads: “always, in my every prayer…”
Now, let’s look at some prayer principles as they relate to δεήσει DESEI.
1. This noun is used most often as a noun of petition or of request to God, so it comes to mean prayer.  It may either refer to a prayer of petition, that is, for yourself or a prayer of intercession, praying for others.  Context generally indicates which is in view.
2. Paul is not saying here that he prays all of the time, but when he is praying, whether it is once an hour or once a day, he remembers the Philippian believers in those prayers.
3. Prayer is a personal matter, strictly between each believer and God the Father. It is a privilege, but whether or not you pray is a matter of application of your own priesthood. It should come that as you become more mature, the more you will pray and the more effective your prayers become.
4.  Paul enjoys prayer. Every believer should!
5. By this verse, Paul challenges every believer to have the same attitude in prayer as he does.  For each one of us to pray effectively and to take great pleasure in prayer, we must all achieve spiritual maturity.

3. Inclusiveness in Prayer

This verse continues with another prepositional phrase, which in the NASB reads, “for you all…” Our principle is this: Paul includes every Philippian believer in his prayer of thanksgiving.  There has been some evidence of a conflict within either the leadership or rank and file of the Philippian Church but Paul is not taking sides.
The Greek reads as πρ πάντων μν HUPER PANTONE HUMON.  The preposition πρ HUPER with which this phrase begins is with the genitive so it is translated, “on behalf of.” Next is the πάντων PANTONE, the genitive plural form of πάς PAS, an adjective is translated, “all.” The genitive plural of the personal pronoun SU, μν HUMON completes this phrase.  This pronoun, serving as the direct object of πρ HUPER, is translated, “of you.”
Paul is not leaving out anyone in the Philippian church.  He is expressing thanksgiving to God for every believer in Philippi.  Now, some commentators cite evidence of a brewing conflict within the church, and they take it from this prayer that he is not taking sides.  He is not leaving anyone out of his thanksgiving no matter where they stand in the conflict. Every believer is included in Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving. If there had been some problems going on in Philippi, wouldn’t it follow that one side of the conflict was on the right doctrinally while other wrong, getting into some form of heresy?  If this was so, why wouldn’t Paul align himself with the correct side then take the opportunity to offer some corrective advice to those in the wrong?
This is a prayer of thanksgiving. Because Paul was operating under the principle of virtue love, a principle we’ve discussed before, his great integrity shows here.  He is grateful for their spiritual growth and rapport with God and himself. Paul understood that no one benefits from taking sides in a prayer of this nature.  Syntactically, this is a genitive of advantage that denotes that it is to the Philippian believers’ advantage to be remembered to the Father as the subject of Paul’s persistent prayers. Our translation of verse 4, as far as we have gone is this:
ü     Always in my every prayer, on behalf of all of you…  Philippians 1:4
Now, at this point in our study we need to turn to the doctrine of prayer.  If we are going to pray effectively, as we have been mandated to, then we need to master every principle in this study.
Chapter Outline
Verse 1-2:        The Salutation
Verse 3-           Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians
ü    1. Paul and Timothy, slaves belonging to Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, to those residing in Philippi, together with pastor-teachers and deacons.
ü    2. Grace to you and so prosperity from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
ü    3. I am giving thanks to my God for every memory on the basis of every memory of you.
ü    4. Always in my every prayer, on behalf of all of you.
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