Philippians 1:20 – as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
How do you pray when you are sick, hurt, or in danger? How do we pray when loved ones suffer in the hospital? What prayer is in line with that of the scriptures? In this short verse from Paul in Philippians, we have a fascinating look at the prayers and mindset of the apostle as he suffers in prison, with his very life at risk.
The phrase that I want you to notice is the very end of verse 20 of Philippians 1. Paul says that his hope is that “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” I do not doubt that Paul prayed for his release from prison. I do not doubt that he prayed, at other times for the physical healing of his loved ones. But I think what we see in this verse is the most excellent model for how we ought to view our sufferings and those of our loved ones. We should desire that, most of all, Christ would be honored in our bodies, whether by life or by death.
What kind of change is here made appropriate? It is a major change in focus and goal. When we or a loved one suffers, we should recognize that the highest goal is not their comfort or their restoration to health. While we may deeply long that they be restored to health, and we might pray to that end, the ultimate goal is that Christ be honored in them either by life or by death. Why? We desire this because the ultimate goal of all of our lives must be that Christ be honored. Therefore, our desire for our friends and family should be that Christ be honored in their lives—that Christ allow them to fulfill the purpose for which they were created.
Ladies and gentlemen, a change in our point of view regarding suffering and death will help us to become Christians who both live and die to the glory of God. We want to live our lives, every last breath, to the glory of God. But we also must become people who live to die well. We should desire that our deaths also be to the glory of God. We should desire that our sufferings, our hardships, our struggles magnify the glory of God; and we ought to pray for that long before we pray that God comfort us, heal us, or take away our struggle. If our struggles, our discomforts, our pains, or even our deaths are what will ultimately bring glory to Christ, our desire and our prayer to God should be that his name be glorified in the strongest possible way.
Dear Lord, I pray that you will help my mindset to be far more desirous of your glory than my comfort. Yes, I pray that you will give me health and comfort, but only so much as honors you. I pray that you will give me peace and prosperity, but only so much as pleases you and shows the world that you are the Giver of all good things. I pray that, should your will be that I suffer, I will suffer to your glory. When the day comes that I should die, I pray that I will die to your glory. I pray that you be glorified in my body, either by life or by death.