Monthly Archives: September 2011
10 Observations of Colossians 1 that instruct our praying
- Paul prays the day he learned of the Saints at Colossae!
Paul’s prayer is informed: It is because of their faith and love that they are prayed for. Paul has reason to pray.
- Imagine, the same day you hear of the conversion of people you begin offering up prayers for their spiritual maturity. We need to ask God that we would have the same joy and compassion and concern for the church and for the maturity of those being saved. Our hearts need to burst with gratitude and then a plea to God that He would continue to show forth His grace.
Paul prays continually.
- I can picture Paul asking Epaphras questions about the church. Tell me about their faith. Is their hope in Christ? Have they put their faith in Christ alone? What do they understand about grace? Do they try to mix in works? I can also picture Epaphras eagerly telling Paul about them. Their love for all the saints. The hope they have in eternal life, at the coming again of Christ. The Gospel is bearing fruit among them. Epaphras likely also shared of his concern about the false teaching that was taking place, the so-called “Colossian Heresy.”
- When we hear of someone’s conversion, we can be excited, but let’s be sure that we are excited for the right reasons, with knowledge of the conversion, with evidence of true saving faith and with knowledge of the issues they face which may impact their spiritual growth.
Paul prays even though he had never seen them (2:1), but had only heard of their faith through Epaphras.
- He doesn’t cease to pray. Spiritual maturity doesn’t end at salvation, but is just beginning. We don’t stop praying for our children after we take them home from the hospital. In the same way, Paul prays for the Colossians continually.
Paul understands the need and the benefits of prayer.
- Can we get concerned about the faith of others that we don’t know? For example, recently our church sent a delegation of ten people to Jacob Bear Community Church in Saskatchewan. We came back and reported about their faith in the Lord and we gave witness to their love for the saints. Was your heart pricked so that you prayed for them? When we hear of missionaries that we support tell us of the church in India, Uzbekistan, or France … does this cause us to pray for the saints in those places?
Paul prays corporately.
- That is because he knows that only God can grant wisdom and understanding. God is the source of all wisdom and understanding. Paul is familiar with the Scriptures that teach that only God opens the eyes so that people may have eyes to see and ears to hear. Proverbs teaches us that the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Paul prays accordingly.
Paul’s prayers are instructive. He informs them of what he prayed.
- “We” indicates that this is not just a private prayer of one individual, but Paul and Timothy, perhaps others as well, are getting together to pray for the church in Colossae.
Paul’s prayer reveals God’s desire for the church.
- It is very encouraging to hear people pray specifically for you. That is why we pray out loud with one another. Next time you pray for someone, let them know exactly what you prayed for. Let’s try to practice this as a body.
- Instead of saying, “Paul and Kathie (Biebel), I’ve been praying for you,” What if I said instead, “Paul and Kathie, I’ve been praying for you. I am praying that God will give you wisdom in knowing what to do in the circumstances you are facing. I am praying that God will provide you comfort. I am praying that you will find encouragement in the body of Christ and you will know that we truly love you both. I am praying that God will continue to provide for your needs so that your business will prosper and that Christ will be glorified in your life.”
- The prayer that Paul and Timothy prayed also instructs other churches. For example, Paul encourages the Colossians to pass along the letter to Laodicea and vice versa (4:16).
Paul prays for spiritual maturity.
- The divine inspiration of Scripture and the affirmation of the same basic elements in the prayer to the church at Ephesus let us know that this is an important prayer. We cannot go wrong praying this prayer for our church and for other churches. However, don’t make it repetitive nor a formula (just as we are not to say the Lord’s Prayer repetitively).
Paul’s prayer to the Colossians and the Ephesians reveals what a healthy mature church looks like:
- Paul has a burden for church maturity. There were likely people that were in Colossae that were poor, lived in difficult circumstances, were sick, had suffered hardship, etc. These needs are not prayed for, not that it is wrong to pray for these things, but it shows that spiritual maturity and growth is important. It is likely there were hardships. In fact, Colossae was in a decline as a city and had suffered a recent major earthquake. (Funny thing is that if we lived in their living conditions, we’d likely be asking for prayer.)
- Paul and Timothy prayed for the manifestation of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, fruit, perseverance, patience, joy, thankfulness and to live pleasing to God. These are very good things to pray for. We need to seriously consider the content of our prayers for one another. There is a need for us to have spiritual emphasis to the prayer. We need to examine our prayers to ensure they are asking God to enrich us spiritually, not just physically.
- Paul states in Colossians (1:28) that it is his desire to present everyone mature in Christ. The elements of his prayer reflects what that may look like. This is not an inclusive list as more can be found in other letters, but this list is a great start:
- There exists a knowledge of God’s will.
- The people walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing God in all respects.
- The church is bearing fruit in everything that they do.
- They are a people that are increasing in the knowledge of God.
- They are steadfast, persevering, patient, and joyously giving thanks to the Father.
Philippians 3:17 says, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” Paul has given us a pattern in Scripture that is worthy of noting and adopting.
Scripture is given for us for doctrine, for admonishment, for instructing us on how to be righteous so that we may be perfect, completely equipped for every good work. I am encouraged, admonished, and challenged just by these observations about Paul’s prayer life. As a church, we desire to deepen the discipleship of one another. One thing we can do in our discipleship activities is to pray with one another as well as to talk to one another about our prayer life.
- Do we pray? If man is man and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing; it is an infinitely foolish thing. Phillips Brooks
- God commands us to pray, for our good. We receive not because we ask not. Or because we ask for the wrong motives so that we spend it on our pleasures.
- Are we praying for the universal church?
- Are we praying for our church?
- Let’s ask one another, when is the last time you prayed for the church?
- Let’s ask one another, what is the content of your prayers?
- I believe God has in store for us great growth and maturity as a body, but we receive not because we ask not.
- If need be, let’s repent for our lack of faith, for our complacency, for having the wrong motives.
- Let’s ask God to change us so that we may become more mature; and if we are as little children, let us become mature believers.