Summary: This is an examination of one of the prayers that Paul prayed over the Colossians. It give us insight into how to pray for one another.
September 9, 2001 Colossians 1:9-14
“How to pray to change lives”
Probably everyone here has prayed for someone at some point in your life. You prayed that they would get well or that they would have safety in a trip that they were taking or that they would get a job that they were applying for. Sometimes things worked out as you hoped. Sometimes they didn’t. These prayers were what I would call “emergency” prayers. Some situation arises in someone else’s life or maybe even our own life, and it forces to get down on our knees. As long as the situation is unmet, we stay down on our knees. But as soon as the situation is resolved, we check that off on our list, stop praying for that person and start praying for someone else who is in an emergency situation. So we move from emergency to emergency. We are reactive instead of proactive. We are always on the defense rather than being on offense.
This morning, I want to show you another way. I want to show you a prayer that Paul prayed for the church at Colosse. It is a prayer that will change people. It will accomplish in people’s lives what all your begging, whining, yelling, and nagging will not do. It is a powerful prayer. It is not powerful because of the specific words that are used but because of the subjects of the requests that you make. You can have complete confidence as you prayer that each and every request you make is completely within the will of God for that person. It is not powerful because it is a magical formula, but because God already desires to do these things in the lives of every person. You are only asking for what God already wants to do. It is powerful because you are praying God’s Word back to Him.
Two things that I need to tell you about this prayer. First, this prayer will not change situations. In fact, because of what you are praying for, it may make situations worse than they were to begin with. That may be necessary in order to accomplish what you are asking God to do. And second, this prayer will only be effective as you pray it on a daily basis for a long time. Paul says in vs. 9 of Colossians 1 where we find this prayer that “since the day [he] heard about [them, he] had not stopped praying for [them].” As the ocean was faithful to send the waves to the shore, so Paul was just as faithful to pray this prayer for the believers. It is no quick fix, and you should not expect changes over night. At the same time that God is changing the person you are praying for, He will be changing you and testing you to increase your faith and your faithfulness. He will be testing you to see if you are truly totally dependent on Him to accomplish what you can never accomplish in your own strength. The more change you want to see accomplished, the more time it will take. It takes thousands of years to turn a lump of coal into a diamond.
Having said that, let’s read Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12. In it, we will discover 5 requests that will change our lives and the lives of people around us.
1. Pray that they may know the purpose of God. (vs. 9)
So many people are confused about what their purpose on earth really is. They think that it has something to do with what their job is or what the balance in their checkbook says or what kind of possessions they have or how their kids turn out. All of those may be good things, and they can fit into God’s purpose for your life, but they are not your purpose for being here. They are not what God wants to accomplish in you. If your job was your purpose on earth, what happens if you lose your job either through getting fired, through retirement, or through some accident which prevents you from doing your job anymore? If the accumulation of possessions is your purpose in life, what happens when a flood comes along and washes all of your possessions away just like it happened down in southern West Virginia? If raising children is your purpose in life, what happens when they don’t turn out the way that you planned, or what happens when you can’t bear children, or what happens when you lose a child? None of those are your purpose in being here. If your purpose for existence is built on anything that you can lose, then you are on very dangerous ground. As soon as you lose that one thing that is most significant for the meaning in your life, you might as well just give up on life and end it all. That’s exactly what a lot of people do. But God’s Word tells us of at least three parts to God’s purpose for us while we are here. And none of these are things that you can lose.