Powerful prayers pray powerful prayers. Read that again! Last night, I had the privilege of leading a Bible study with a group of high school kids at our church. The topic was prayer. We studied Colossians 1, focusing on the powerful prayer of the Apostle Paul. I would like to share that with you via this article.
Prayer is something that can be taught and caught. Jesus’ disciples caught prayer from hearing Jesus pray. They were then taught how to pray when they came to Him and asked Him to teach them how to pray. Jesus was a powerful prayer. The disciples became powerful prayers. The Apostle Paul was taught directly by the resurrected Jesus so his prayers were powerful. Paul gives us some insight into his prayer life via the letters that he wrote during his time in ministry. Letter writing was the modern technology of Paul’s day. He used the Roman road system to send out those letters, written in the common language of the day, Koine Greek, so that many people could hear the Gospel and respond to the Gospel. Because the Apostle Paul used the modern technology of his day, we get a glimpse into his prayer life. I have to admit, I do not pray as much as I would like so this lesson was very challenging to me. I was also encouraged and motivated by it. I hope that it will do the same for you. On a side note, the last article that I wrote was also on the subject of prayer. Maybe the Lord is trying to tell me something vital.
I. Prayer is a priority
For many of us, prayer is not a priority because we do not make it a priority. We all agree that we should pray more but, are we intentional about setting time aside each day to pray? Prayer was a priority for the Apostle Paul.
3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; (Colossians 1)
Paul wrote to the Colossians to inform them that he prayed for them. In writing this encouragement to them, he revealed that prayer was a major priority for him. Did you notice that he wrote that he prayed for them always? That struck home with me. Honestly, do I pray without ceasing? The answer is no. This challenged me. This convicted me. I need to make prayer a priority in my daily life. Is prayer a priority for you? What a great encouragement for the Colossians! Wouldn’t you like to know that someone is praying for you every single day? How much better is it to hear from that person, that he is praying for you every single day!
Did you notice what motivated Paul to pray for the Colossians? What motivates you to pray?
5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel
6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Colossians 1)
The Apostle Paul was motivated to pray for the Colossians because he had received the news of the fact that they had heard the Gospel from Epaphras, that they had understood the Gospel, and that they had placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. What a powerful motivation! It seems that Paul had never met the Colossians but, he was so excited for them and he was moved by the Lord to pray for them every single day. This leads us to the next topic that we learned about prayer.
II. Prayer is specific
When you listen to people pray, pay attention to the content of their prayers. Many people pray very vague, general prayers for others. A powerful prayer is a person who prays very specific prayers.
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, 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,
10 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; (Colossians 1)
The Apostle Paul was very concerned about the spiritual growth of the followers of Jesus Christ. In fact, he was so concerned that he dedicated much of his prayer time to pray for specific spiritual growth in the lives of the Colossians. In verses nine and ten, we get a glimpse into the Apostle’s desire for the Colossians in view of their spiritual growth. Do you have someone praying for your spiritual growth? How important is it to have someone pray for our spiritual growth? In this prayer, the Apostle Paul laid out a plan for spiritual growth, something that we can follow and also something that can guide our prayers for others.
Paul prayed that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. How is a person going to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will? We know that God’s will is found in His Holy Word. The way that we can grow in knowledge of the will of God is to study the Bible. Paul prayed that the Colossians would be great students of the Word of God. Knowledge of the Word of God applied to daily life will lead to spiritual wisdom. What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is information and wisdom is the application of that information. Paul prayed that the Colossians would learn the Word of God and apply the Word of God to their daily lives. This will lead to understanding. Experience is the only way to have true understanding of something. Understanding is the experience that comes through the application of knowledge. Paul prayed that the Colossians would experience God, not just know information about Him. There are many people who know lots of facts about God but, unless you apply that information, you will never move to understanding/experience. God wants us to experience a relationship with Him, not just know facts about Him. This was Paul’s prayer for the Colossian Christians. Paul’s next aspect of prayer is that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding would impact the way that the Colossians lived their lives. The Apostle prayed that the Colossians would live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord, which implies that the Colossians bear the fruit of good works in their daily lives. Information about God is useless if it does not impact the way that you live your daily life, the choices that you make. The final thing that Paul prayed for was the increase of their knowledge of God. In other words, that they would experience a genuine relationship with God on a daily basis. If the Colossians were to apply this prayer, they would mature in their faith rather rapidly. Don’t you need someone like the Apostle Paul praying for your spiritual growth? Are you willing to pray specific prayers for the spiritual growth of others? What would happen if you prayed like this for your children every single day? What if your children heard prayers like this prayed over them at night before going to bed, how would it impact them?
III. Prayer is a reminder
Every time that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians it reminded him to be grateful to the Lord. What was he grateful for?
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1)
When we pray specific prayers for others that is an automatic reminder for us to be grateful to the Lord for the work that He has done, is doing, and will do in their lives. The Apostle Paul was reminded through prayer of all the glorious things that the Lord has done for us. Through faith in Jesus Christ, He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ. What an amazing miracle. A sinner can become a saint! Through Jesus Christ, God has redeemed us. He bought us back from the slave market of sin so that we could be free to connect with Him. Finally, by praying for the Colossians, the Apostle was reminded that in Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of our sins. What a blessing that is indeed! The Colossians were released from the penalty of sin and the power of sin to be able to follow Jesus Christ and connect with God in a personal relationship. The same thing had happened to Paul and he was reminded of that every time he prayed for the Colossians. Do you need a daily reminder to be grateful to God? Of course you do. So do I. We all need to be reminded to be grateful and the best way to do that is to pray specific prayers for others. As I wrote in the beginning of this article, prayer must be taught and caught. We are learning and catching prayer by reading the powerful prayer of the Apostle Paul for the Colossian Christians. What is the next step? Application is obviously the next step. Let’s commit to pray specific prayers for the spiritual growth of others. Let’s make prayer a priority in 2020!