A Praying Community


I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers (Philemon 1:4)

Last week we started a series through Philemon, with our first sermon: A Letter of reconciliation.” We examined two forms of reconciliation: Reconciliation to God and Reconciliation to one another. I also showed that when God reconciles us to himself, he places us in a church community. Next in the series, I want to address what I have titled “Marks of The Christian Community”. When God brings us into this new community or family called the church, there is a way we must live.

And I want us to look at one of the Marks of The Christian Community: It is A Praying Community. Christians are a praying people as individuals. In our private lives, we must pray. Christians are a praying people as a community. In our gathering, we must pray corporately.

Pray For One Another

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers

The text is self-explanatory. It is a prayer. What Paul does here is a big lesson for us. The Christian community is a praying community. We pray for one another. Paul prays for Philemon. He thanks God for Philemon anytime he remembers him in his prayers. In verse six, we see further details about the prayer. “And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ”.

Paul here basically prays for more Christian virtue to be formed among the believers in their interaction one with another and most especially through Philemon’s generosity. As believers, praying for one another is essential. The Scripture commands it:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

If you have paid attention to Paul’s letters, praying for the church features prominently in most of his letters. He is always praying for them:

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his son that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you (Romans 1:8-10).

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4).

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:15-16)

Paul’s letters follow a consistent pattern: he prays for his people. And it is not only Paul who is praying, Philemon is also praying for Paul: “At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you” (Philemon 1:22). The church is a praying community and we must pray. When people ask that you remember them in prayers, do you actually do? And when you promise people I will pray with you, do you actually do that? 


Look at the text again: In Paul’s prayers for Philemon, he thanks God for the life of Philemon. For Philemon’s generosity: “I thank my God always…” In prayer, there is thanksgiving, and we must indeed always be grateful to God for saving us and bringing us into a community of believers. We must be grateful for the life of one another thanking God for being part of a bigger family of believers. Last week, we saw how Paul uses endearing words showing a family union to describe the people in the epistle: 

Timothy our brother (v.1); Apphia our sister (v.2), Archippus our fellow soldier (v.2), the saints (v.7), Paul, an old man (v.7), my child Onesimus (v.10), whose father I became in my imprisonment (v.10), Partner (v.17), brother (v.20), fellow prisoner (v.23).

If we take our time to let this sink in, they are words saying so many things. This community of believers is a family. It is a new family—a new family of God’s children.

A Church is not a group of friends you’ve picked. It’s a group of brothers and sisters God has picked for you. (Michael Horton).

This is who we are—a family redeemed by God from sin. In prayer, we express our gratitude for one another. Also, notice how Paul prays: “I thank my God ALWAYS when I remember you in my prayers.” This is consistency in prayers. Paul’s thanksgiving for Philemon is always. In Luke 18:1 Jesus told a parable to the effect that we have to pray always without ceasing. That’s consistency in prayer, and that’s what Paul precisely displays here. He Paul himself said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that “Pray without ceasing”

Dear friends, as believers, we must be a people who constantly pray. Prayer is communion with our Father. Prayer is communion with God. It is the means by which we express our gratitude to God. It is dependence on God. Our prayer is directed to the Sovereign God. Prayer is a relationship with God. We can only come to God in prayer because we have a relationship with him. We can call on God because he is our Father. Everyone who has believed in Jesus for salvation has God as a father. Take note again of Paul’s Prayer: “I thank my God….” My God. This is personal. Prayer is Personal. Paul is not praying into the wind and hoping someone up there will here. The Christian God is a personal God who hears prayers and answers prayers. This must encourage us in our prayers. If God is our God, we have access to him to pour our prayer to him.

Finally, we need faith in prayer. Have faith that he hears us when you pray according to God’s will. Let’s look at Philemon 1:22. The second part of the text: “for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.” Paul has hope that God will answer the prayers being offered for him and that they will release him.” Indeed he was released. This is faith, and this is an expectation in prayer. We must have faith when we pray God will answer. 

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