Philippians 1:19-26, Job & Romans
Pastor Steve reached the middle section of Philippians 1, starting in verses 18-20 and asking why it was significant that Paul said he hoped that Christ would be honored whether he lived or died. He pointed out that Paul had appealed to Caesar, which meant his trial could result in his death.
“It’s a mindset, a way of trusting God that is unfamiliar to us,” Steve commented. “(He’s saying), ‘I know your prayers will be answered and even if I die, it’s gain.’”
To illustrate, he moved ahead to verses 24-25, where Paul said to remain in the flesh is more necessary on the Philippians’ account, so he is confident God will get him released through their prayers. Steve confessed he didn’t believe this growing up because he put more faith in the person praying than he did God. The Bible changed his mind; likewise, he hopes we will learn to seek and trust God for everything. Yet, at the same time say, “Lord, Your will be done” because things may not turn out as we think they should.
Next, he had us turn to Romans 8:26-27, which talks about the Spirit helping us pray with groanings too deep for words. While speaking in tongues is part of that, Steve said it’s not everything. He said it includes the idea that if God leads us to pray a certain way, it will never be contrary to His will. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps to pray this way.
Steve cautioned that we can go to one extreme and reason that our prayers don’t matter because God will act anyway, or think that God can’t do anything unless we pray. We have to believe the Holy Spirit will help us pray, which means believing in God’s sovereignty. In other words, we can believe that God heals, but still trust in Him for the outcome of our prayers for healing.
He then outlined four ways to look at this passage:
1) Paul is saying that God is right and good, the same way David did when he prayed for his first child with Bathsheba, who didn’t live. We, too, should look at God as doing what is right and good, regardless.
2) We should seek God no matter what. If we pray thinking everything is up to us, where is our faith? Steve asked. “How do you not take all the credit when you think it’s all up to you. A lot of Christians are burdened with guilt because they think they didn’t have enough faith (for an answer)…God is sovereign over the results, but He uses me to bring results.”
3) We should trust God to lead us when we pray, which means we need to be saturated in the Bible so we know what He says.
4) Actually pray. Steve said one of the greatest freedoms of his life is believing that God will take us where we need go and how we need to go. Trying to figure how God will use our prayers is an exercise in futility, he said. We should simply give Him all the glory and trust in Him to act.