Pray for Abounding Love

One of the primary commands Jesus has for us is to love on another.
John 15:12  "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Or John puts it this way:
1John 3:23  And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
This love for the brethren is a natural part of the regenerate nature
1John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
But the relative degree of a person's love is an issue of further sanctification. How does one abound in love? Certainly obedience is involved, given all the commands to love, as Peter also writes:
1Pe 1:22  Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
But the Bible also acknowledges God's involvement in this process of developing abounding love. Here, for example, Paul thanks not the believers for their abounding love, but rather thanks God:
2Thess 1:3  We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting,
    because your faith grows exceedingly,
    and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
Most significantly, and examples for us to follow, are the prayers Paul prayed for abound love:
Php 1:9-11
And this I pray:
(to the end) that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
     (towards the objective) that you may approve the things that are excellent,
        (in order) that you may be sincere and without offense (blameless) till the day of Christ,
            being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ,
            to the glory and praise of God.
The logic here follows Paul's use of the conjuctions. The first and third "that" is "hina" which means either "in order that" or "to the end that" or "effectively". The middle "that" is "eis" which means either "into" or "towards". One results in the other in a sort of cascade effect.
1Thess 3:12,13
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all,
just as we do to you,
    so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness
    before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
Love has many outworkings and is essential to health and development of all aspects of Christian character. Here we see, for example, that it affects a person's level of holiness. That is, the degee to which he is actually blameless and without hypocrisy. Thus in these cases instead of Paul praying that God would develop their holiness, he prays for their love to abound.

And let me make clear that this is not a wish. These are actual requests which he expects God to take action on, though he doesn't micromanage God. But as vague as the request may be perceived we can see from 2Thess 1:3 above that God's answer has a measurable outcome. Abounding love is something which is measurable. It is something which can be prayed for such that when the answer comes the results are measureable enough to give thanks back to God.

This also indicates that what prompted Paul to pray in this manner was that he recognized a deficiency of love among the Christian community. As I mentioned above, such deficiency also has secondary effects as a deficiency in holiness - a deficiency in approving things which are excellent.

And now I pray for you, the reader, that the LORD Himself may make your love to increase and abound towards all in the Christian community, and also to overflow to those outside the Christian community. By doing so may this also affect your hearts such that you would desire that which is excellent and result in a blameless behavior devoid of hypocrisy.
If you notice significant effects to this end in the future, feel free to glorify God and let me know that I and others may be encouraged to pray further along these lines.

Steve Amato

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 29,2022