“…Refresh my heart in Christ. Having the confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.” Philemon 1:20b-22
Paul’s “Confidence in your obedience” is developed through the essential process of mutual intercession. His expectant intercession is expressed by, “Refresh my heart in Christ.” Paul’s expectancy and confidence in being refreshed by Philemon’s obedience to Christ was based upon his prayer for his friend, and Philemon’s persistent intercession for Paul. He framed his expectancy as a hope “through your prayers.”
Paul’s confidence in Philemon’s obedience was not based upon Philemon’s great work for The Lord, but his hope rested upon his brother’s great walk with The Lord. Paul and Philemon were not perfect men, but they were both praying men. As such, they were brothers in Christ. When they faced any hint of separation, they did not get in each other’s faces. They fell on their faces before God, on behalf of one another.
Within the climate of their mutual intercession, Paul developed an over-riding sense of a persuasive power at work in him. Separated by many miles, and facing a possible difference of opinion with his brother, Paul prayed for Philemon. By praying for his brother, Paul was reminded that they were joined in the heart of God as brothers in Christ. Through each other’s prayers, their bond with The Father, produced brothers in love, not brothers in law. May their tribe increase.
There may not be any more beautiful expression of expectant intercession than, “Refresh my heart in Christ.” Praying for his brother raised Paul’s level of expectancy in Philemon because he had confidence, or trust in Christ to complete the work He had begun in his friend’s heart. Christ was Paul’s source of a great relief and refreshing, but have no doubt about it. Confidence came to him by praying for a work that only Christ could do through Philemon.
Paul’s confidence was placed in Christ, not Philemon, but his expectancy was no less of a relief and a refreshing to him. The refreshing was rooted in the source of Philemon’s sense of direction and correction. Refreshing confidence came from Christ, to Paul, as he lifted up his prayers for his brother. It helped knowing his brother was doing the same for him.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it, until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Confidence in Philemon’s willingness to respond in obedience to Paul’s request of him was generated by Paul’s intercession for him. To the Greeks of Paul’s day, confidence meant, “to be persuaded of a thing concerning a person.” Of course the Greeks had a god by the same name, but Paul’s confidence in Philemon didn’t come from a man-made idol. This kind of confidence came from Paul’s trust in Christ and his intense intercession for his brother.
Note to self: Jesus finishes what He begins. Expect some refinishing to be done on you and in others. Pray through the process, for yourself and for others. Yielding to the touch of His Spirit’s hand on your heart speeds up the work Christ intends to do in, and gives you patience with His work He has yet to finish in others. Resisting prolongs the process, and postpones the completion.
Paul interceded for Philemon to see things from Christ’s perspective, not Paul’s point of view. Philemon interceded for Paul’s release, and safe return to him.
From a human perspective, Philemon would be hard pressed to receive Onesimus, an escaped slave, as his brother in Christ.
Paul prayed for Philemon and asked him to receive his escaped slave as Paul in the flesh, and welcome him in the same way. Philemon’s obedience to Paul’s request would refresh the aged apostle’s heart, because it would reveal God’s answer to his prayers.
Any separation or irritation between brothers should initiate intercession for one another. Prayer warriors intercede with confidence for their brothers and sisters and expect reconciliation, instead of perpetuating separation between each other. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!