Paul’s Easter prayer
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
Did you ever underline a verse in your Bible that blessed you in a very special way? My Bible has many pages, with verses underlined, and with little marginal notes about the special meaning and the date and place of blessing that I received.
One verse is so indelibly burned in my memory and in my Bible that I can almost hear the words being spoken with a passion that I don’t think I had ever heard before.
The date was some time in 1957; the place was the School for Officers’ Training in San Francisco; the speaker was Colonel (Dr.) William Noble. He and his wife were visiting the training school, and he was sharing his testimony and the story of his mission service as a doctor in India with the Faithful session. At that time, he was on his way home to receive medical treatment that eventually required that his arm be removed due to a cancer growth. Later, he went back to India and served there as a one-armed surgeon—a remarkable saint of the Lord.
As he spoke, this man, short of stature, became a tower of strength and powerful prophet for the Lord as he said:
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:10 KJV).
This has been called, “Paul’s Easter prayer.” Paul wrote this victorious prayer while confined in prison in Rome. Few have been as earnest in serving God. No man has invested more in Christ’s kingdom, and no one has given evidence of a greater measure of God’s power working through him than Paul.
As an Easter prayer this is a powerful testimony. As a sermon it has four points:
1. Recognition. “That I may know him.” Do we know him? So many don’t. We need to recognize him and what he did for us on the cross. Near each seeking soul is the living Savior. In hundreds of Easter sunrise services he waits to be truly recognized.
2. Redemption. “The power of his resurrection.” The resurrection was the crowning point of Christ’s life. Easter shows his power over sin and death. And the power of his resurrection is the power to make us personally victorious.
3. Responsibility. “The fellowship of his sufferings.” Christ died to redeem the world from the power of sin. Fellowship with his sufferings is the acceptance of responsibility; it is participation in his program of redemption. The atonement was complete, but witnesses were needed who would suffer with him in reaching all men with the gospel. This was the impulse of the resurrection. But it doesn’t end there. Fellowship with his burden and compassion resulted in Easter triumph. The power of sin and death was broken!
4. Resignation. “Made conformable unto his death.” Like Christ, Paul desired to give his all. He laid down his life for sacrifice and service.
Being made conformable unto his death means to live and die in the spirit of self- sacrifice that characterized Christ’s life.
Dr. Noble was promoted to Glory many years ago, but this verse will always remind me of his testimony that day and that there is no more powerful prayer than this: “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection. That was Paul’s Easter prayer, and it ought to be ours.