"Okay" Doesn't Cut It

"...our prayer is for your perfection" –2 Corinthians 13:9, NIV.

I pray a lot of things for a lot of people but I'm not sure I have ever prayed for someone to be perfect. Perhaps I'm a casualty of the popular adage, "nobody's perfect" which might make a prayer for perfection seem like a silly thing for which to petition the Lord. Perhaps I am too aware (or not aware enough) of my own imperfections, making it feel a little hypocritical to pray for someone else to be perfect when I'm not. Oddly, (or not) Paul must have been thinking the same thing. The complete sentence is: "We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection." The whole context follows the same line. He hoped that he would not fail the test (vs. 6) but his primary concern, and prayer, was that they not do anything wrong (vs. 7). He ends this letter with an admonition to: "Aim for perfection..." (13:11, NIV).

Paul isn't naive. He knows that nobody's perfect–least of all those dear Corinthian believers with whom he constantly had "issues." But he insists that such a statement should not be the standard, nor the excuse, for the way we live our lives.

Perfection is the goal even when there are times when reaching that goal seems as elusive as winning a three-legged race running backwards. That might be the very reason which drove Paul to pray for these people to be perfect, to take the right actions, say the right things, and make the right decisions. We often pray for people's physical or material needs, but added to that should be a prayer for their spiritual needs as well in fact, for their perfection.

In the previous chapter of this letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks about that thorn in the flesh (12:7-10). It seems that Paul's path to perfection was marked by a "thorn" that would help him towards perfection by keeping him from being conceited. The grace that God would give Paul to handle that "thorn" would become perfecting power in his life.

I wonder how uncomfortable it would make some people feel if I prayed that they would be perfect. Such a prayer might result in "thorny" issues. It would also result in more Christlikeness and isn't that the "point"?

Comments

  1. Oh, Lynda. This is so profound. Physical imperfection helping us become more spiritually perfect. I KNEW this - but it didn't really sink in until I read this. WOW.

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  2. Intriguing and totally thought provoking. Thanks Lynda!

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