New year Devotions: A Congregational Prayer – Philippians 1:9

Philippians 1: 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.
If ever a prayer was written for a local congregation, it must certainly be this one of Paul’s. I love these words because of the encouragement and faith that is expressed in them. Our wee church at Erin has just completed some major renovation and expansion work on the building. Now it’s time to apply this verse and work on the people who congregate there.


Just recently someone was telling me about the welcoming love that they have experienced at Erin. I was proud to hear that the people I serve are embracing visitors and welcoming them as friends in Christ. To me, that is the main part of what a church should be doing. Whenever someone new walks through the doors of any church, they should be met with a sincere joy and delight that will make a good and lasting impression.

I also want that love to be spread into our local community. There are hundreds of people in our parish who do not know the love of God in Jesus Christ. If we can discern who these people are and make the right effort in reaching out to them, we can keep a light on and an open door for them to walk through when they need God most.

Paul’s prayer to the Philippian church was highly effective because it became a major base for the spreading of the Gospel all across the Mediterranean. My hope and my prayer is that with the right encouragement, vision, and faith, all of our local churches can begin to do the same throughout this New Year.


Prayer: Lord Jesus , we thank You for our churches and the congregations to which we are attached. In this New Year, we pray that You will equip and encourage us to undertake local outreach projects and missions that will enable us to embrace and welcome new visitors and new friends into our midst. Thank You for the power of the Gospel in our lives and for the potential that it has to spread across our community. In Your Sacred Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s drawing is one of John’s latest lighthouse prints. It’s called “Light Snow” and depicts the Portland Head Light in Maine during a snowstorm. You can view a larger version of the print here:

All of John’s drawings can be found on the Web at his artsite at

Signed, numbered and matted prints are available for only $20 each (plus shipping if necessary).

About Stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over thirty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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