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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 3

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)

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2018 in prayer

 

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Lack (Part 1)

I’ve been studying Mark 10 recently which says:

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up FirefoxScreenSnapz098to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

There is so much in this passage of Scripture.  Let’s notice what happens here.

I.  A Young Man’s Urgent Question (v. 17)

If you had the opportunity to literally and personally ask Jesus a question, what would that question be?  Some might ask Him, “Why am I going through this trial?  Why me?  Why now?”  Others might ask, “How can I achieve maximum happiness in this life right now?”   Others might not ask a question at all, but point an accusing finger at Jesus and declare, “”How can you possibly allow such evil in Your world?”

This young man’s question (we are told that he is a young ruler in the parallel accounts, Mt. 19 and Lk. 18) was urgent!  He “ran up to [Jesus] and fell on his knees before him . . .”  He obviously thought his question extremely important.  He cast aside all customs of dignity for Eastern royalty to ask his question of Jesus.  Eastern rulers did not normally run — for anything.  His falling on his knees indicated respect and honor as he prostrated himself before Rabbi Jesus.

The very way we sometimes word questions says much about our assumptions — and ourselves.  This man’s question was:  “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He obviously thought Jesus could teach him what he needed to know, and that His answer would be good.  His question was about the next life — and how he could prepare himself for it.

But what a great question!  The parallel account in Matthew 19 has him asking, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (v. 16).  This man was really into goodness, wasn’t he?

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There is, of course, a difference between asking how might I inherit eternal life and what good thing must I do to get eternal life.  I believe that there are ultimately no real contradictions between the gospels, so it may be that Mark picks up on the inheriting part of his question while Matthew focuses on the doing part of his query.

Before we read further in our passage, how might you or I respondKeynoteScreenSnapz008 to both parts of that question, if we were Jesus?  To the inheriting part, we might say, “Well, someone has to die for you to inherit anything — and that’s why I came — to die for sinners.”  That answer, of course, would be true, but it isn’t how Jesus responds.  To the doing part of his question, we might say, “There is nothing that you can do to get eternal life!  You can’t earn it.  You can’t buy it!  It is given as a gift!”  And that would be a true, biblical answer as well.

How Jesus really answers this man’s question will be discussed in our next installment.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2013 in saved

 

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The Rich Young Ruler and Life’s Most Important Question!

A sermon I recently preached at our church in Columbia, SC.  Comments welcome!

Luke 18 (The Rich Young Ruler0

 

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