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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 11 (Conclusion)

We’ve looked at the seven specific requests that Paul makes on behalf of the Colossian believers in Colossians 1. We see how committed he was to interceding for them. If you are at all like me, you need to grow in your praying for others.

Paul’s strategic commitment to pray for them is in 1:9 as he says “we have not stopped praying for you . . . we continually ask God to fill you . . .”  The specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12 includes the following requests: that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9), that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10), that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10), that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10), that they would get strong in living out the Christian life (v. 11), that they would endure when life gets rough (v. 11), and that they would live joyfully with a thankful heart (v. 12).

But how does Paul conclude his prayer?  After seeing —

I. His Strategic Commitment to Praying for Others (v. 9) and

II. Paul’s Specific Content in His Praying for Others (vv. 9-12)

may I suggest we see —

III. Paul’s Satisfying Conclusion in His Praying for Others (vv. 12-14)

Paul mentions four amazing actions which God has taken on our behalf:

A.  He has qualified us to share in His inheritance (v. 12)

B.  He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (v. 13)

C.  He has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (v. 13) and

D.  He has redeemed us and given us the forgiveness of sins (v. 13).

What a fantastic summary of salvation!  We have been qualified, rescued, transferred, and redeemed!  If you’re not (at least emotionally) jumping up and down in joy right now, check your pulse.  You might be dead.  Or you need another cup of coffee.

We will resist the temptation to post on each of these four incredible actions by God on our behalf, but let’s think about them for a few minutes in this concluding post.  He has qualified us.  We were completely unable to qualify ourselves.  He has rescued us.  We were drowning in our sin and He gave His life to save us.  He has transferred us.  He “brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”  We’ve been moved out of darkness into His kingdom of light!   He has redeemed us by forgiving our sins.  The thrice-holy God took care of my sin problem!

What a satisfying summary of what we enjoy as believers.  And those truths ought to motivate me and you to pray, I mean, to seriously pray, for others.  [I just prayed for someone I love to realize those four amazing actions of God on their behalf.  Your turn].

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in praying for others

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 10

There are seven specific requests that Paul makes on behalf of the Colossian believers in Colossians 1.  We are studying his prayer in that passage and how committed he was to interceding for them.  I’ve got a lot to learn about praying for others.  And I’ve got a lot of actual praying to do!

We saw Paul’s strategic commitment to pray for them in 1:9 and then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. His prays that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9), that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10), that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10), and that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10). He also prays that they would get strong in living out the Christian life (v. 11) and endure when life gets rough (v. 11).

Could one ask for a more in-depth, profound, specific, intentional prayer than that?!  But Paul has one more request for these believers and it is that they would —

G. Live Joyfully with a Thankful Heart (v. 12)

He specifically prays that they would be “giving joyful thanks to the Father.”  Not just “thanks” in general.  But joyful thanks.

I’ve recently looked at the issue of a thankful heart and found the following verses challenging:  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)  “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4:2)  “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” (Heb. 12:28-29)

Thankfulness is a key to living out the Christian life — and Paul wants these Colossian Christians to be joyfully thankful!  When I think of thanks that isn’t joyful, I can’t escape the picture of an young boy who get pajamas from his grandmother for Christmas, instead of a toy.  He thanks her, but it’s not joyful thanks, is it?

We’ve seen in these rich, deep, prayer requests that Paul cares deeply for these believers.  And he wants them to grow strong and mature in their walk with Jesus.

We have one more section to look at in Paul’s prayer (in our next post), but let me challenge you with a quote from Daniel Yankelovich, a public opinion analysis and social scientist who said,

It is spiritual healthy for you and me to focus on the deep practical needs of others.  [I’ve just prayed for someone I love to “live joyfully with a thankful heart.”  Your turn.]  (to be continued)

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in praying for others

 

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

When I think of endurance, I immediately think of the word IdidarodThis annual long-distance dog race is run in early March entirely in the state of Alaska.  Mushers and a team of 16 dogs cover the distance in 8-15 days or more through blizzards in sometimes whiteout conditions.  One thousand and forty-nine miles!

Talk about endurance!  And for the musher too!  We’ve been thinking about Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers in Colossians 1. We’ve seen his strategic commitment to pray for them in 1:9 and then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. His first request for them was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9). His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10). His third request was that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10). He brings a fourth request before the Lord and it is that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10).  His fifth request is that they would get strong in living out the Christian life (v. 11). 

This morning let’s notice that he prays that they would —

F. Endure When Life Gets Rough (v. 11)

Paul’s specific request is that “you may have great endurance and patience.”  Great endurance.  Would anyone say that about my Christian life?  Maybe a measure of endurance, but great endurance?

If I am going to pray for other believers like the Apostle Paul did, I need to ask God to give them great endurance.  What would that look like?  Several circumstances come to my mind:

1. This believer is consistent in spending significant time in God’s Word.
2. This brother or sister is seeking to use their spiritual gifts to serve the Body of Christ.
3. This Christian is not crushed when life doesn’t go his or her way.
4. This saint longs to know the Lord better and shows it in their priorities and daily choices.
5. This follower of Jesus isn’t afraid to take some RISKS for the kingdom of God.

I’ve found John Piper’s little book helpful in this area of endurance and risk.  Piper writes:

For whom are you praying that they would have “great endurance” as they take risks for the Lord?  [I just prayed that prayer for someone specific.  Your turn] (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2018 in praying for others

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 8

One day a small boy tried to lift a heavy rock, but couldn’t budge it. His father was watching and finally said, “Are you positive, son, that you’re using all your strength?” “Yes, I am!” the boy cried. “No, you’re not,” said the father. “You haven’t asked me to help you.”  Learning to live a life of dependence upon the Lord and His strength is one major aspect of the maturing Christian life.  Wouldn’t it be great if you had a whole team of people praying for such strength for you?

We’ve been looking at Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers. We’ve seen his strategic commitment to pray for them in 1:9 and then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. His first request for them was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9). His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10). His third request was that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10).  He brings a fourth request before the Lord and it is that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10).

This morning let’s notice that he prays that they would —

E. Get Strong in Living Out the Christian Life (v. 11)

How can one tell if he or she is getting strong in living out the Christian life?  A few questions occur to me:  (1)  Do I see myself and my life as “on mission” for the Lord?  That is, do I attempt to begin each day with the purpose of serving Him, contributing where I can to the fulfillment of the Great Commission, seeking to know specifically what in my life needs to become “more conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29)?   (2) Do the daily trials and nagging inconveniences steal my joy as a believer and put me in a bad mood?  (3)  Do I find that I give in far too easily to temptations that may seem trite to others, but direct me away from a settled contentment in Him?  (4) Have I somehow convinced myself that any victories I have gained were achieved by my cleverness, skill, or ability?

A woman writes the Readers’ Digest: “Following my arm operation, the hospital physical therapist taught me exercises to strengthen it. In one, called `climbing the wall,’ I faced a wall and `walked’ the fingers of both hands up it, trying to reach as far with the injured arm as with the other. I seemed to be `climbing the wall’ morning, noon and night. After watching me, the woman in the next bed said, `Excuse me, but what religion do you belong to?'”

If you “belong to” biblical Christianity, then you (and I) need to live in His strength!

The verses below challenge me to rejoice in His strength, to pray that He would be my strength every morning, that my hope in Him will renew my strength, and that He can enable me to shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord.

Wow! Ask others to pray that for you. And pray that right now for someone you love. [I just did. Your turn]. (to be continued).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2018 in praying for others

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 7

On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate your growing knowledge of God?  Just acquaintances?  Strong friendship?  Deep connection and relationship?  Believers should not be content with just being saved and being in God’s family.  The Bible is clear that we ought to be growing in our knowledge of the Lord!

The reason I bring this up is because of Paul’s specific prayer request for these Colossian believers.  We’ve seen his strategic commitment to pray for these believers in Colossian 1:9.  We then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. We’ve seen his first request for them and it was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9). His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10).  His third request was that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10).

Please notice with me Paul’s fourth request for these believers. It is that they would —

D. Grow in the Knowledge of God (v. 10)

Our world scoffs at us for thinking that we “know” God, but that’s the biblical promise, isn’t it?  Paul declares in Philippians 3- “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”  We can know God!  And we are to grow in our knowledge of Him!

Are you and I praying for others that they grow in their knowledge of God?  Scripture is clear that God can be known and our knowledge can increase.  We can learn more of His attributes, His character, His ways of working in our lives and in this world.

I’ve been greatly helped by J.I. Packer’s classic Knowing God.  [There’s a special place in heaven for those who have read that entire book.  It’s challenging!].  J.B. Phillips’ Your God Is Too Small and Mark Buchanan’s Your Good Is Too Safe are also quite helpful in deepening one’s walk with Him.

Pray for someone else today that they would grow in their knowledge of the Lord.  And not just in their head knowledge of Him.  But that their relationship with the Lord would deepen!  [I just took my own advice.  Your turn.]  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2018 in praying for others

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 6

“Why don’t we ever pray for lost people?”, I wanted to scream!  I was at a mid-week prayer meeting at a small church I was visiting.  And all the prayer requests had to do with people’s health.  People-in-that-church’s health.  It was simply an “organ recital” (we just prayed about other people’s organs).  I was frustrated when I left that meeting.  No one mentioned any unsaved people they were trying to reach with the gospel.  No one asked for prayer for their own spiritual lives.  It was just the standard organ recital.

Please forgive me for my negative tone.  But I wonder what kind of Christian I would be if more people had prayed for me like the Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians?  And I wonder what spiritual victories would have been won by people I know if I had only prayed more consistently and more deeply for them?

We are looking at Paul’s deep prayer in Colossians 1 and have seen his strategic commitment to pray for these believers in verse 9.  We’ve also begun to look at the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12.  We’ve seen his first request for them and it was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9).  His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10).

Let’s notice Paul’s third request for these believers.  It is that they would —

C.  Bear Fruit in Every Good Work (v. 10)

I am sure you would agree with me that our minimalist Christianity has got to go!  Some of us have been satisfied for too long that all the gospel does is save us from hell.  That’s true, thankfully.  But the gospel is meant to change us.  To make us more like Jesus.  And we are often just content to glide to glory.  He saved us “just as we were” and we pretty much stay “just as we are.”

No!  He wants fruit-bearers!  May I suggest that the Lord is interested in two types of fruit:  internal fruit and external fruit.  The external fruit would be new people won to Christ, good works done in His name, seeking to positively influence our culture as salt and light, etc.  Many of us have bailed out of our earthly citizenship and are content to let our world go to hell in a handbasket.  We are to live in such a way that we preserve the good in our culture (salt) and illumine the evil in our culture (light).  I’m sure you can find many passages in Scripture reminding us of our job of producing external fruit.

But what about internal fruit?  I am, in a sense, haunted by 2 Peter 1 which says,

If I am going to “bear fruit in every good work,” there’s a lot of work for me to do!  On myself!  The Christian life is not a let-go-let-God arrangement.  Peter says we are to “make every effort to add to [our] faith”!  These seven virtues don’t come naturally to us — and they are not picked up by osmosis through perfect church attendance!

How about today choosing someone you know, someone you love, and praying this prayer for them: “Father, I pray for ___.  May they bear external and internal fruit for you today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  [I just did that for one of my loved ones.  Your turn].  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2018 in praying for others

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 5

One of the disciplines of my life is also one of my most enjoyable luxuries.  I get up every morning about 5 or 5:30 am.  Yes, that means I go to bed about 9 or 9:30 pm at night.  But that quiet time in the morning is precious to me.  I get to spend some solid time with the Lord . . . and a cup of coffee.

What I especially appreciate is that I can work slowly and progressively on preaching and teaching assignments that are coming up.  So, for example, while I’m here in Myanmar, I get to preach to the students at South East Bible College on this topic of praying for others.  Working on my daily blog helps me think through this topic and gradually develop the material I pray will be useful to them.  I deeply appreciate your reading my blog and praying for me as I spend time in God’s Word.

Our text is Colossians 1 and Paul’s meaty prayer.  Let’s look at that passage one more time:

We’re suggesting the following outline:

I. Paul’s Strategic Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

Then we notice —

II. Paul’s Specific Content in His Praying for Others (vv. 9-12)

We’ve seen Paul’s first request (of the seven we will consider) for these believers and it is that they would be —

A. Filled with a Knowledge of His Will (v. 9)

Let’s notice his second request for them.  It is that they would —

B.  Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

What does it mean to “live a life worthy of the Lord”?  Negatively, it means we don’t live in such a way that the Lord would be ashamed of us or embarrassed by our conduct.  We strive to lead godly, Christ-focused, intentional lives before Him.  We don’t let life simply pass us by or slip through our fingers.  We look at each day as another opportunity to nudge people toward the Kingdom of God, to be salt and light in our tasteless and dark world, to personally rejoice in our salvation.  We refuse to let our hours and days just tumble down the hourglass of time without our consciously choosing to use that time for Him.  We “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10) — and we get to it!  Positively, we want the Lord to be proud of us.  That’s a bit — it seems to me — of what it means to “live a life worthy of the Lord.”

There’s a great story about the late Howard Hendricks, esteemed professor emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary.  He asked a student to open the class in prayer and the student prayed, “Lord, we know that we are worthless creatures and . . .”  Dr. Hendricks interrupted the student’s prayer and said, “Son, the word you want is ‘unworthy.’  We are not ‘worthless.’  You may now finish your prayer.”

Pray for someone else today that they would live a life worthy of the Lord!  And ask the Lord to help you do the same.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2018 in praying for others

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 4

There are a number of aspects of the Christian life in which I need to grow.  One of the more difficult ones for me is . . . prayer!  True, I thank the Lord for my food, I pray for my grandchildren, and I occasionally intercede for others in trouble.  But my prayers are not nearly the solid, well-thought-out petition to God that we find from the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1.  Let’s look at his prayer one more time:

We’ve seen, first of all,

I. Paul’s Strategic Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

Let’s move into the prayer itself and notice —

II. Paul’s Specific Content in His Praying for Others (vv. 9-12)

Paul’s first request (of the seven we will consider) for these believers is that they would be —

A. Filled with a Knowledge of His Will (v. 9)

The topic of God’s will is a popular one among Christians — and one that brings with it a lot of confusion.  Some believers think that we must somehow divine God’s will, for it is hidden and mysterious and must be pursued with a kind of gnostic aggression (“I must find out what the will of God for me in this situation is!”).  The scholar Bruce Waltke wrote a fine little book on this topic entitled Finding the Will of God:  A Pagan Notion?  He says that Christians “ought to stamp out of our vocabulary the nonbiblical and misleading expression ‘finding God’s will.'” God is not a divine sleight-of-hand artist with an elusive will that we must find like the proverbial pea in a heavenly shell game. God’s will, after all, is clear! God wants us to be holy, to be mature, to be more like Jesus. God is all about forging our character and welcoming us into greater intimacy with him.

Waltke writes, “God is not a magic genie. The use of promise boxes, or flipping open your Bible and pointing your finger, or relying on the first thought to enter your mind after a prayer are unwarranted forms of Christian divination.” (p. 12).  Later he says, “. . when I wonder about which job offer to take, I don’t go through a divination process to discover the hidden message of God. Instead I examine how God has called me to live my life, what my motives are, what He has given me a heart for, where I am in my walk with Christ, and what God is saying to me through His Word and His people.” (p. 16).

So what does it mean when Paul prays for these believers to be “fill[ed] with the knowledge of His will”?  I believe he is praying that these Christians would grow more and more dependent on the leading of God the Holy Spirit (he writes “through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”) and that they would live their lives in certainty, not confusion, in serving the Lord.

May I suggest that it is not God’s will that is mysterious.  It’s ours!  It’s a complete mystery why we don’t pursue every aspect of life with the confident expectation that God will guide us, use us, and empower us to live for Him.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2018 in the will of God

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 2

If prayer really accomplishes something — and we believe it does — why don’t we pray more for others around us? Could it be that part of their spiritual development is directly tied to our prayer lives? Is it possible that that person doesn’t grow because I don’t pray for them to grow?

We are considering Paul’s profound prayer in Colossian 1. There we read:

We have seen that Paul refers to each member of the Trinity as he prays for these believers.  I have often thought that we are too general as we pray to “God” or “Our Heavenly Father.”  The Father does certain things; the Spirit does certain things; and the Son does certain things.  Why not craft our prayers in terms of their ministries?

Notice that the broad term “God” is used in verse 9 (“we continually ask God . . .”) and in verse 10 (“growing in the knowledge of God”).  The term “Lord” is used in verse 10 (“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord”).  But the specific term “Father” is used in verse 12 (“giving joyful thanks to the Father”).  The Father is also the referenced in verse 13, for He is the One who “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”  “The Spirit” is specifically referred to in verse 9 (“the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”).  “The Son” is referred to in verse 13 where we read that we have been “brought . . . into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”  And the “in whom” refers back to the Son in verse 14: “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

I have found it a helpful practice over the years to be more Person-specific in my prayers.  The Father originated the plan of creation and salvation; the Son accomplishes redemption; the Spirit applies salvation to us.  It is the Spirit who illumines our minds to understand the Scriptures.  It is He, the Third Person of the Trinity, who brings conviction of sin to the unbeliever (as well as to the believer).

I’m sure you’ve heard someone publicly pray, “Heavenly Father, we thank You for dying on the cross for us . . .”  It wasn’t the Father who died!  It was the Son. I’m not suggesting that we should become hyper-critical about public prayers, holding up a sign that says “8.5” or some such nonsense.  But we ought to become more aware of the differences between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And pray in accordance with those differences.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2018 in prayer

 

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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 20)

Psalm 20[a]

For the director of music. A psalm of David.Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 7.45.45 AM

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
    and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
    Answer us when we call!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2015 in the book of Psalms

 

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