Maturing in Prayer Starting with Colossians 1:1-12
Multiple times in God’s Holy Writ we are told to pray for one another. Yet, at times, we are not sure what to pray for people. Between rushed morning prayers or sleepy bed-time prayers, our good intentions often turn into anemic offerings; puny prayers punted for those who need and deserve better.
Now that we all feel sufficiently guilty, what shall we do? How about some help from God’s word?! Colossians 1:9-12 models a prayer that speaks of specific and significant spiritual needs we all have. It points us towards God and spiritual growth.
“… we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12 - NASB).
Here is my summary of this meaty prayer (I bet you can do better. Go for it!). “We are praying that God’s will you would fully know so that in His ways you can fully go – walking worthy of and pleasing Him. It will show, to Him & others, as He causes fruit in you to grow: in your knowing, doing, enduring & thanking.”
The United States Constitution is among the most significant documents of the last Millennia. So profound, even its Preamble is required memorization for many school kids. Back to Colossians: Paul’s prayer is so rich, its setup (a.k.a. the context) deserves a looking over as well. The preamble (vs. 1-8) alone has many great lessons on prayer.
After Paul identifies himself and Timothy, he sends his greetings to the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae” - his “Gospel Grandkids”. He is writing from jail (see 4:10) to a church he has not started or even visited. Yet, they were the fruit of the fruit of his ministry.
Paul’s extended teaching time in Ephesus lead to this church being started by Epaphras (see Acts 19). His second generation, spiritual grandkids, he loved them deeply and was greatly concerned for their well being. Invoking God’s grace and peace on them (vs. 3), he thanked God for them, “praying always for you.”
Though he did not personally know them, Paul prayed for them regularly. I guess there are two lessons here. Paul not only prayed for these beloved strangers, he did so with persistence (ala 1 Thess. 5:17).
When you hear the news, read the paper and see a need, do you pray? Do reports from missionaries fuel your prayer life? Not out of pity for “those poor people over there”, but with joyous thanks for brothers and sisters who are loved of the Lord too. Have any friends in ministry? Do you pray for those which they seek to reach, disciple, lead and serve?
It is neat to see what prompted and pumped-up his prayers: their faith, love, hope. “… Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (vs. 4, 5). Knowing they had faith in Jesus, loved other Christians and enjoyed the hope God provides, Paul prayed. It is like they were family (irony intended).
Being vested in their lives, Paul prayed. Being inspired by his prayer, I have written a poem, with sincere apologies to writers and lovers of serious (good) poetry. See if you can find the imprint of Colossians 1:9-12 in this piece.
Beyond “God Bless Them”
Now I bow my head to pray
But I’m fresh out of things to say
So once again, the same old way:
“Dear Lord, please bless them all today”
Now, a blessing is no small thing, true.
But what do I really want God to do?
Yes, “suit a blessing to their need”
But, there is more for which I should plead
Are they seeking to know God?
On His path do they trod?
His holy will do they know?
Or on His ways do they go?
Are they walking worthy of Him;
Pleasing Him with vigor and vim?
Is fruit increasing in their life;
Knowing God despite life’s strife
Do you ask Him to empower them,
Make them faithful and patient within?
For them are you giving thanks
That God has rescued them from sin?
Oh Lord, please teach us how to pray
To help us use Your word each day
To seek Your face in all we do
For us and others – skoo-del-ee-do.
What is a skoo-del-ee-do? It was a "need a word to rhyme, the poem is over and I have said what I needed to say" word. And maybe a moment of silliness set in - just maybe. Pray for me! Here’s a thought: use Colossians 1:9-12.