Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. — Philippians 1:4,5
When I think of all the people who have financially supported our ministry throughout these many years that we’ve been serving in the former Soviet Union, it fills my heart with gratitude to God for putting such wonderful and faithful people in our lives. Without them, we would not be able to do the front-line, cutting-edge, frontier-type work that God has assigned to us.
In fact, a day never passes that I don’t dedicate time to pray for and to specially thank God for those who support us with their prayers and offerings. You see, they are our partners in this work of God. We don’t use this term lightly; we truly mean it when we say that these friends and supporters of our work are our ministry partners.
You see, Denise and I are aware that:
- It is our partners’ money that pays for the large evangelistic crusades we hold in various locations in this part of the world, where thousands of people come to Christ and the local churches grow and are strengthened.
- It is our partners’ money that enables us to purchase television equipment and to pay for broadcast time on television — an outreach that sends the Good News into millions of homes in nations where the Gospel is only now beginning to penetrate.
- It is our partners’ money that has enabled us to preach the Gospel through television to the several million people who have come to know Jesus Christ as a direct result of our television broadcasts. That means millions of people will go to Heaven because of broadcasts that our partners paid for with their gifts and offerings.
- It is our partners’ contributions that consistently help us print massive quantities of books and literature, which we then distribute to people who respond to Christ through television, through crusades, and through our other various outreaches in this part of the world.
- It is our partners’ gifts that assist us as we establish and strengthen churches in hundreds of locations across the eleven time zones of the former USSR. Without their gifts, we wouldn’t be able to do this vital church-establishing work that is having such a great and eternal impact.
- It is our partners’ faith-sown gifts that make it possible for us to help the poor, the needy, the homeless, and the orphans who live in this part of the world.
My wife and I understand that although we are the ones God has anointed to lead this work, we couldn’t do any of it without the financial support our partners send to our ministry every month. It is their gifts that make it possible for us to accomplish all that God has called us to do.
Every time I pray for our partners, the law of sowing and reaping, found in Galatians 6:7, is the foundation of my petitions for them. I ask God to bring a rich harvest back into the lives of those who have sown financially by faith into this precious work of God. I desire and expect them to be blessed because of the acts of generosity they have shown toward the work of God.
This must be how the apostle Paul felt about those who financially supported his ministry. The church of Philippi was among his most faithful supporters. That is why he told them in Philippians 1:4 and 5, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”
By using the word “always,” Paul lets us know how frequently he prayed for his partners. In Greek, it is the word pantote, which means always, at all times, or constantly. This lets us know that praying for his partners was a regular occurrence in Paul’s daily life — something he did habitually. Paul understood what my wife and I are also well aware of — that his partners’ role in his ministry was just as important as his role. Therefore, Paul made his responsibility to pray for them a very high priority in his life.
The word “prayer” is the Greek word deisis. This word describes a heartfelt request for God to answer a concrete, specific need — usually some type of physical or material need. The church of Philippi was suffering financially at this time. Considering how they gave of their finances despite their own financial struggles, it makes sense that Paul prayed earnestly for God to answer and meet the concrete, physical needs of this sacrificially giving church.
When Paul says he is “making request,” the Greek tense carries the idea of Paul continuously making requests for the Philippian believers. This is definitely not a one-shot, occasional prayer; rather, Paul makes it very clear that praying for these believers is a part of his daily pattern. The word “request” is again the word deisis, now used twice in this verse, which categorically substantiates that Paul was asking God to answer and provide for the physical, tangible needs of this church. And notice that Paul said he made these requests “with joy.” It was no burden for him to pray for his partners; he did it with pleasure and joy.
In Philippians 1:5, Paul explains the reason he feels so passionate about these believers who had so faithfully supported his ministry. He says, “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” The word “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia, a word that depicted partnership or a mutual participation in some project or event and often referred to a partner, a sharer, or a companion.
Paul felt about his supporters the same way my wife and I feel about our supporters — that they are partners. By supporting the ministry with their finances and prayers, these partners actually enter into the work of the ministry and mutually work side-by-side with those on the front lines.
Paul had told the Corinthians, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one…” (1 Corin-thians 3:8). The word “one” is the Greek word hen, which in this context means one in purpose, one in aim, or one in terms of being on the same team and having the same goal.
You see, Paul had a revelation that every person is essential in accomplishing the work of God. He knew that those who water the work with their prayers and finances are just as important as those who do the actual work of tilling the soil and planting the seeds. If the first group tries to do their job without the assistance of the other group, failure will be the inevitable result. On the other hand, if both work together as a team, appreciating and valuing each other’s role in achieving their common purpose, the result will be a great harvest.
So when Paul wrote to the Philippians and spoke of their “partnership” in the Gospel, he truly did mean that they were his partners. He was doing his part and they were doing theirs — and together they made a great team that was having an eternal impact. One part of that team wasn’t more worthy of honor than the other part. Everyone was on the same team, moving toward the same goal; they were simply fulfilling different roles to get the job done. Paul was a planter, and those who gave of their finances were the waterers. Both were essential to the success of the work.
And notice that the Philippians had been partners with Paul’s ministry “…from the first day until now.” They had been with him for a very long time. Through the years, people had come and people had gone in Paul’s life; those who stayed with him through every circumstance and challenge were precious and rare. Paul was keenly aware of how special it was that the church of Philippi had not only supported him from the very beginning, but were also still standing with him as his partners in the work of the Lord!
Philippians 1:4,5 could be interpreted to read:
“I am always praying for you. In every one of my prayers, I am asking God to meet the tangible and physical needs in your lives. And I want you to know that praying for you is one of the greatest joys of my life. Why, you’ve been my partner in the work of the Gospel from the very start, and you’re still with me now. Because of that, praying for you is a very special joy for me.”
Never let the devil tell you that your partnership with a Gospel ministry isn’t important. Think of what would happen if everyone simultaneously stopped giving! Preachers would be like automobiles with no gas in the tank. Although equipped to go with a vision burning in their hearts, they would be unable to do their work and fulfill that vision because of their “empty tanks.”
The gifts you sow into a ministry “put gas in the tank” so the work of the ministry can go forward! Thus, it isn’t just the minister’s work but your work as well. One plants, another waters, and God gives the increase.
I want to thank you for what you do for God’s work. Your partnership in the Gospel is not a light matter. It is one of the most significant things you can do in this life. When you stand before Jesus and see all the people who are in Heaven because of the gifts you sowed, that is the golden moment when you’ll really understand the power of every single gift you ever gave for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I thank You for allowing me to be a participant in the Gospel by sowing my finances every month into ministries that are touching the world. Help me to always be aware of the great impact my gifts have and to never let the devil make me think that what I do is unimportant. My gifts and prayers help “put gas in the tanks” of these ministries so they can take the Gospel forward. I want to give faithfully to these works, Lord. Therefore, I ask You to increase me financially so I can give even more! I want to partner with them to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to help fill Heaven with the souls of those for whom Jesus died.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am a faithful supporter of the work of God. I give regularly, consistently, and passionately to see the Gospel go forward around the world. My gifts are important. What I sow really does make a difference. Because of this, I am faithful to do my part, and God will reward me both here and in eternity for the financial seed I’ve sown to help further His Kingdom around the world.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. What ministries or outreaches do you regularly and faithfully support with your finances?
2. How did the Holy Spirit lead you to support these particular works?
3. Do you pray for these ministries as well as give of your finances?