Building a Vital Spiritual Life by Prayer

      One of the best things we can do is to pray for each other.  We can pray for specific situations, and also for an improvement in the general quality of our lives, in our wisdom and love, with God supplying the spiritual power that will produce Christian character and action, enabling us to be God's people and do God's work.  How?
      In John 14-17, Jesus describes the relationship of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) with abiding disciples:  "I am the Vine, and you are the branches.  Whoever lives in me and I in him bears much fruit.  However, apart from me — cut off from vital union with Me — you can do nothing. ...  If you live in me — abide vitally united to Me — and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you." { John 15:5 & 7, Amplified Bible }
      God is the source of our ongoing spiritual transformation and continual empowering, in order to equip us for His service, bringing glory to God by joyfully doing what He commands: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the most important commandment.  The second most important commandment is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  { Matthew 22:37-39, Good News Bible }   "Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.  This is the true worship that you should offer.  Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.  Then you will be able to know the will of God — what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect." { Romans 12:1-2, GNB }


      Prayers for Wisdom and Love

      We constantly need wisdom and love, usually for the little everyday things that (when all blended together) form our life, and occasionally for big decisions and actions.  God's abundant supply of wisdom and love is a theme in two prayers of Paul:

      We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.  Then you will be able to live as the Lord wants and will always do what pleases him.  Your lives will produce all kinds of good deeds, and you will grow in your knowledge of God.  May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience.  { Colossians 1:9-11, Good News Bible }
      [Paul continues, in verses 12-14, by explaining the context of our prayer requests,] And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light.  He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of his dear Son, by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.  { For a fuller context, also read verses 15-23. }

      My deep feeling for you all comes from the heart of Christ Jesus himself.  I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that you will be able to choose what is best.  Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ.  Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.  { Philippians 1:8-11, GNB }

      Other translations of these prayers are available below.

      These prayers can serve as focal points for our requests and as points of departure for other prayers, both general and specific.  While you are praying for others, you'll find yourself thinking, "Yes, Lord, I need these things, too."  During times of abiding meditation it can be edifying to think about Paul's portrayals of spiritual health;  and God will be faithful in answering our requests for healthy spiritual vitality, for others and for ourselves.

      Relationships with God and People

      The diagram below is a reminder of the important connections in your life:  The first, and most important, is your relationship with God.  The second is the interpersonal relationships between you and other people, both Christians and non-Christians.  You can pray for each of these three life-connections, and for the other five relational connections: of Christians with God and with each other, of non-Christians with God and with each other, and between Christians and non-Christians.

      When your foundational relationship with God is whole, when you have said "yes" to God and have the potential for a full relationship (indicated by the unbroken connection between yourself and God) and you are using the opportunity to fully abide in Christ, God can supply what you need for living an obedient Christian life, for obeying — in attitudes and actions — the commandments to love God and love your neighbor.


      Different translations can offer useful insights:

      We pray "that you might be filled with all spiritual wisdom and insight so as to understand His will clearly, and to live in a way worthy of the Lord and to His entire satisfaction, by producing results in all sorts of good work, and by growing in the knowledge of God.  We pray that you may be invigorated with complete power in accordance with His glorious strength, for the cheerful exercise of unlimited patience and perseverance." { Revised Berkeley Version }
      We pray "that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things; That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in (and by) the knowledge of God — with fuller, deeper and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition." { Amplified }

      I pray "that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight — that is, that your love may [display itself in] greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment;  So that you may learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value." { Amplified }

If you like this page, you may also like the following related pages.

More thoughts about spiritual vitality are offered
by Andrew Murray in his classic book,

Wise Advice from Mother Teresa
"... It was never between you and them anyway."

Christian Education for Living a WorldView
(home page)

The important ideas in this page were contributed by Jesus and Paul.
These ideas were assembled, with introductions and
comments added, by Craig Rusbult. 

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