22 At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
This is probably the shortest sign-off I have read from Paul yet! At the time of this writing, he was expecting to be released from prison, after which he planned on visiting Philemon. Notice what Paul says about his release being a result of prayer? He knew that Philemon had been praying for him and his faith caused him to believe that it caused his eminent release.
I struggle with this kind of prayer. The bible tells us we should pray what is on our hearts and as Paul says to the Philippians:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Why must we pray at all? Doesn’t God know everything? If God wants it to happen, why does He need me to ask Him for it? These are the thoughts that sometimes creep in my head when I think about praying for others. There are two important aspects of prayer, however, that we tend to forget in these situations.
Prayer is how we communicate with God.
Sometimes I think we overcomplicate prayer by thinking there is a specific way to do it or even that you have to be qualified somehow to pray. Daniel Harris’ books on prayer address these unreasonable expectations and inaccurate definitions of prayer, but to put it simply, prayer is how we talk to God. Just like when we talk to our spouse, kids, parents, coworkers, etc. we also get to talk to God. Our complicated relationships with other people has caused us to complicate our relationship with God.
The more we talk to God, the closer we get to Him.
Communication is key to any relationship. Our relationship with God is no different. Jesus exemplified this as He spent a lot of time in prayer with God the Father. It is through our communication with Him that we learn more of God’s Will. The more time we spend with God, the more our lives resonate with His and we begin to understand more of it and what part we are to play in it.
The Holy Spirit prays for us.
God’s spirit inside us is what helps us pray for God’s will. It seems crazy to us if we look at it simply on a humanistic level, but God wants to work through us to bring about change and accomplish His will on earth. Most people ask, “why?” but I’d like to challenge you with, “why not?” He created us for His purposes and if that is His purpose for us, then who are we to challenge it? Through the Holy Spirit, God implants in our hearts His will. When we develop our relationship with Him, His will becomes ours and our petitions and concerns will be the same as His. I like to think of it as a spiritual tuning fork.
Paul’s final sentence, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit reveals the sentiment that Paul’s desire is for us to be in full communion with God. How much do you resonate with God today and how can you better tune yourself to His will?