I Give Thanks: A Prayer for all Sunday School Teachers
If you spend time reading the letters of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, it doesn't take long before you realize that Paul was a praying man. He would tell the churches he was writing to how often he prayed for them. He told Timothy "I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day". (2 Timothy 1:3) In many ways, I think that Paul believed that one of his primary ministries to those he discipled and to the churches he ministered to was prayer. It was how the churches knew Paul cared deeply for them. He prayed for them often.
That is certainly the case for the church at Philippi. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul uses very moving language in verses 3-11 to describe his joy and delight in them. He told them in chapter 1 verse 4 that he was "always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer". He knew that the Christians at Philippi were his true partners in the gospel. He recognized that God had started a good work in the Philippians and that He would complete it. What makes this letter even more moving is that Paul is writing to them in prison. As great as Paul was, he knew that the work of the gospel could not be done by just one man. He depended on faithful churches to partner with him and to continue what he had started. Philippians 1:7 is particularly moving as Paul says, "I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel". As he sat in prison, he still had joy because he knew they were carrying on the work of the gospel. As they carried on their work he prayed that they would grow in their knowledge of God and in their discernment of the truth. He desired that they be pure and blameless in the day of Christ. He desired and prayed that the fruit of righteousness would be evident in their life, and that above all they would glorify Christ.
Partnerships with faithful churches were valuable things to Paul. He prayed for his partners often. It is no different in ministry today. I am a Minister of Education at a large church. I can't do my work alone. Every Sunday I partner with over 25 leaders just in our adult SS area alone to see the work of the gospel continue at my church. And just like Paul, I value those partnerships. I pray for those leaders often. I give thanks for them because without them the "defense and establishment of the gospel" wouldn't continue. I conclude this post with two things. First, I encourage every pastor and minister to pray often for those who partner with you in the work of the gospel. We can't do it alone, and we weren't meant to do it alone. Second, I close with a prayer for my leaders and yours. It is the same prayer Paul prayed for his partners at Philippi:
I pray that "your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God".