Summary: Paul gives guidelines for the Colossians in how they can pray for him. In the process, he tells how our prayers can be powerful and effective.
June 22, 2003 Colossians 4:2-6
For the last four months, we have been examining the letter that Paul wrote from his prison cell to the church at Colosse. Here at the end of the letter, just as we would when we write letters, he leaves his readers with the things that he most wants them to remember, the things that are most personal to him and the most dear to his heart. We’re going to deal with two of those things this morning – prayer and evangelism.
Prayer has been described as us talking to God about people. Probably each and every one of us would readily admit that we do not spend enough time in prayer. Prayer is a struggle. Our flesh resists it even though our spirit tells us how much we need it. We talk about it, we plan to do it, we want to do it, but when it comes time to pray, something gets in the way. The obstacle could be that we do not have a vital, growing relationship with God – maybe we haven’t ever begun a relationship with Him at all. So you have no motivation to talk with Him since you don’t know Him. Maybe the obstacle is pride – we don’t really see the need to pray. It could be that we see prayer as a chore, and like other chores, we avoid it as long as we possibly can and only do it when the stink gets unbearable. Or maybe we have no passion to pray because we are not convinced that prayer really changes things. The Bible says that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) The persistence level of our prayer life calls into question whether or not we really believe that.
One woman was convinced that prayer changes things. She came to a missionary at Bengalore, India, asking him to interfere and prevent a certain native Christian from praying for her any more. When asked how she knew that the Christian was praying for her, she replied, "I used to perform my worship to the idols quite comfortably, but for some time past I have not been able to do so. Besides, he told me at the time that he was praying for my family, and now my son and two daughters have become Christians. If he goes on praying, he may make me, too, become a Christian. He is always bringing things to pass with his prayers. Somebody must make him stop." – SELECTED
Wouldn’t you like to see that kind of outcome to your prayers? Paul tells us four things that we need to include in our prayers in order for them to be powerful and effective.
1. PRAYER – talking to God about people. (vs. 2-4)
Pray with devotion
“Devote” means “to adhere firmly to”. Devotion means that you are stuck like glue to the object of your devotion. To separate you from that thing would require a great feat of strength. You don’t allow anything to come between you and the object of your devotion. And when something does manage to come between you, it upsets you – it tears you up just like trying to separate two pieces of paper that have been glued together.
Devotion is the opposite of the “hit and miss” attitude that we usually have toward prayer.
Devotion also has the idea of being “ready at all times”. Think of some things that you are devoted to. (family, job, WVU football games, favorite TV show). If you’re devoted to your family, you are ready to go at a moment’s notice when you get the opportunity to spend time with them. A true devoted WVU football fan is waiting on the curb when his buddy pulls up at the door to take him to the game. He doesn’t doddle around. He was ready to go yesterday. And he has this same kind of attitude even when he does not see the results that he would like to see on the scoreboard. You’ve heard stories about fans camping outside the ticket gates so that they can be the first one to get tickets for the concert of their favorite band or to be the first ones who see a movie that just came out. Paul says that’s the kind of attitude that we’re supposed to have when it comes to prayer.
In 1 Thes. 5:17, he says, “pray continually”. “Always be ready to break into prayer, and do it instantaneously, at all times.” If we are devoted to prayer and persistent in it, then we won’t need an introduction to God when some demand or crisis comes up.
A guy was on a plane that developed engine problems. His buddies knew that he used to go to church when he was a kid, so they begged him to pray. Finally, he gave in to their request and said these words, “Lord, I haven’t bothered you for 20 years, and if you get me out of this, I promise I’ll leave you alone for another 20 years.“