Todays readings.. Joshua 15, Isaiah 20&21, Philemon


   Today, we read the short 25 verse letter of Paul to Philemon.  Paul wrote this about Onesimus, an escaped slave; he had escaped from the ‘ownership’ of Philemon many years before.  Onesimus had come to believe in Christ after his escape and this had changed the situation completely.  His name means “useful” and he had become very useful to Paul, who is now “an old man” [v.9] and in prison.  He writes, “I appeal to you (Philemon) for my child Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.”

   What we particularly notice in this letter – is how they prayed for one another.  The message of Christ had now spread far and wide – as a result of Paul’s efforts and of others such as Apollos.  Prayer was an essential part of the life of believers. There was, of course, no instant communication between believers, their communications could take years!  Imagine it!   

We remember what Peter said about those converted on the day of Pentecost;  “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship and breaking of bread and prayers.” [Acts 2 v.42]  Prayer was thus one of the essential pillars on which the church was built. The church was not a building – it was, as Paul told the Romans that those who take on the name of Christ “though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” [12 v.5].   

This was much more than coming together to give praise and thanksgiving to God.  Paul writes, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers” [v.4]  

What is he thanking God for?  The answer: “because I hear of your love and the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints.”[v.5]   A “saint” is anyone set apart (which is what the word means) from the world to serve Christ.

   Paul tells Philemon, “I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” [v.7]  What a wonderful attitude that reveals!  If all true saints had the same attitude, what a powerful spiritual community would exist; but these are “the last days.”

 In those days prayer was the hidden power force that motivated true believers and kept God’s eyes upon them through his spirit.

Paul is praying for his release from prison and knows they are praying for him, “for I am hoping, through your prayers, I will be graciously given to you.” [v.22].    Who have we remembered in prayer today and last week?   And intend to remember in the week now beginning?