I suffer from a poor view of prayer. I do. I look at prayer as a last resort, a kind of 911 approach to the Lord. When all my efforts have failed, then I pray.
I don’t think I’ve scratched the surface of what prayer ought to mean to me — individually. I have not because I ask not. I rely on my own strength and lose my battles time and time again. The “I-can-do-it-myself” childish protest keeps me from expressing daily trust in the Lord and relying on His strength and wisdom. I’ve got a lot to learn about my personal need for consistent, disciplined, personal prayer.
But what about others? What obligations do I have to bring others before the throne of grace, to intercede for them, to present their needs before the Father? What responsibility is mine to envision where they should be spiritually and to help them get there by talking about them to my Heavenly Father?
The Apostle Paul sets the example for us here in Colossians 1. Let’s look at the words he uses to bring these believers — and their most critical needs — before the Lord:
I can’t help it, but I’m always thinking of the question, “Will this preach?” So, here’s the beginning of a draft outline I’m working on.
I. Paul’s Strategic Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)
Paul uses expressions like “we have not stopped praying for you” and “we continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will . . .” Persistence in prayer — for others — is the point here. I’m reminded of Luke 18 and what we saw in a previous post about a widow’s need and an unjust judge. A couple of posts back we wrote: 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!
But what constitutes Paul’s prayer here in Colossians 1? What are the specific requests which he makes of the Father for these believers? (to be continued)