Praying for others is a challenge, don’t you think? For many of us, praying for self is a daily concern. We’re not sure what to pray for. Or we just jump into our day, depending upon our own wit and wisdom, perhaps hardly giving a thought to the many serious challenges that we will face.
I know I have a lot to learn about praying for my own life in a way that pleases God and prepares me to do the kind of spiritual battle that confronts me every day. Somehow I’ve convinced myself — with Satan and his minions no doubt assisting me — that I don’t need to pray about myself all that much. But prayer for myself recalibrates my thinking, reorders my priorities, realigns my desires to those that please the Lord.
But what about others? What is my responsibility in praying for them? Here the Apostle Paul sets the standard in Colossians 1 in lifting up others before the throne of God. Let’s begin our study of this truth-packed prayer in this text:
(Did you read through Paul’s prayer 5 times? I followed my own advice and read through this prayer 5 times. I put a check mark √ upon completing each reading). √√√√√
There is so much here. This is a jam-packed prayer, meaty in its theology, broad in its requests, extremely practical in its details. I will try to limit my discussion of this apostolic prayer to five posts, but that will be difficult!
Just a few general observations to begin:
1. Do you see the entire Trinity involved in Paul’s prayer? We have the Father specifically mentioned in verse 12 (“the Father who has qualified you . . .”) and in verse 13 (“he has rescued us . . .”). We have the Spirit in verse 9 (“the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”). And we have the Son in verses 13-14 (“brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves in whom we have redemption . . .”).
2. We also notice — before we look at the content of Paul’s prayer — his commitment to praying for these believers. Paul says he began praying for the Colossian believers from “the day we heard about you” (v. 9). He declares that “we have not stopped praying for you” (v. 9). May I say this gently but seriously — some of us have not even started praying for the people we ought to lift up before the Lord! Paul then says, “we continually ask God . . .” (v. 9). Persistence in prayer is a lost discipline. Our have-it-now-when-we-want-it conditions us to instant answers. We don’t labor in prayer. We might think that if we pray at all, it only has to be once. Why repeat our requests?
Luke 18:1-8 is a powerful challenge to persistence in prayer. A widow desperately needs the help of a judge who neither feared God nor cared about what people thought. She pesters him with her request, to the point that he says, “‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
Jesus says, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (v. 7). Jesus told this parable “to show them that they should always pray and not give up (v. 1). Have you started praying for others? Be persistent and don’t give up! (to be continued)