Short Meditations in Philippians: 1. Heart Fellowship
Phil 1:7 I have you in my heart
Traditionally, when doing ‘short meditations’ I have gone verse by verse through a passage but as I approach this book, I want to focus on the confidence that the apostle Paul has in his friends and fellow believers who live in Philippi, not his own confidence so much, although that will come out. What can we learn from this?
I have been arrested by this starting verse and am challenged by it. I have thought about creating memories just recently; planning a particular day out I found myself thinking at the end of the day prior to the event, this time tomorrow my mind is going to be filled with new memories of what we are going to experience tomorrow – and so it was, and so it is when you have an itinerant ministry like Paul’s and go from church to church and see God moving in people’s lives. You come home thinking of them, of what happened to them, and you yearn for them to have even more of God.
So Paul travels from place to place and more and more builds memories of people, people he has touched as he has ministered to them, and by whom he has been touched. That’s how it is.
But when it isn’t like that, which is true for most of us, how does it work, because most of us do not have itinerant ministries? So who do we hold on our hearts? Well, as a starting point, hopefully our closest family. I pray for my family – our children and their children, our grandchildren, every day – and am provoked and encouraged by the memory of my wife’s mother, now passed away, who used to pray daily for the whole family. I seek to pick up her baton, so to speak, so I pray daily for them because I have them in my heart.
But is that all? Are they the only ones there? Well, I am a realist, or so I tell myself, and realistically I am rubbish at praying for people I do not know. There are some – and you may be one of them – who has the grace to pray for people on the other side of the world who you have never met, but that is not me. I need to know the people I have on my heart.
Now it is possible to be utterly self-centred and simply focus on ‘me-prayers’ and so in a measure it becomes a discipline to put other people on my heart; it does not come naturally. It needs to be a work of grace, but as I focus on other people around me – they may be believers, they may by unbelievers – I can purposefully ask the Lord to put such people on my heart. Some I will interact with and so naturally, they are there on my heart, but others I see only at a distance and, if I am honest, I need to ask the Lord to establish them in my heart to become a focus of prayer. I need His grace.