Summary: Discover how prayer is absolutely necessary in fruitful ministry.
We continue our message series on prayer this morning. Someone tells about a new trainee in a large company. To befriend his colleagues, he offered to buy a pizza lunch for everyone in his group. He picked up the phone and called a pizzeria.
When the person at the other end answered, the trainee asked, “How soon can you deliver three large pizzas?”
To which he heard, “You fool, you have to dial “9” to get an outside line.”
The trainee replied, “Don’t talk to me like that, Jerk.”
By this time, the other person was furious, “Do you know who I am, Dumbo? I’m the president of this company”
And the trainee replied, “And do you know who you’re talking to, Dumbo?”
The president answered, “No.”
“Good,” said the trainee, and he hung up the phone.
In prayer, it is important that we know the One to whom we speak, because that will dictate how we approach Him and what we can ask of Him. That’s why we’ve studied the Bible to get to know the God who loves us and who wants to show us His great love, if we would only ask.
This morning, we continue by looking at how prayer meets the demands of ministry. The demands of ministry include the necessary abilities and the proper attitudes. We will see why prayer is absolutely necessary, if we want to bear fruit in our service to God.
We can look at ministry in terms of the service we render through God’s church or the jobs we have in the marketplace or at home. We can serve God by leading someone to Christ, showing the love of God to our neighbor, helping a fellow believer to be obedient to God, being faithful in raising our family or being fair as an employer. Because we are called to do all things for the glory of God, we can bear fruit for God in any setting.
Our text is Colossians 1:1-14.
You need to know Paul did not plant or serve in the Colossian Church, to which he wrote. Yet, in his prayer for the Colossians, Paul describes the kind of accomplishment and attitudes in ministry that cannot be achieved by mere human effort. Let’s look together at why prayer is needed in ministry.
First, prayer is needed in ministry, because ministry requires that we serve people we don’t know well. Verses 2-4
Paul had not met the people to whom he is writing, but he wrote to teach and encourage them to be faithful to God. Ministry often happens within the church. But ministry also happens in the workplace, on the street, by mail, on the phone, and with people we don’t know.
As Chuck Swindoll noted, “The Church is the only organization that exists to serve non-members.” Two thousand years ago Jesus commissioned His followers to make disciples of all people. With more than 2 billion Christians in the world today, we can conclude that ministry involved Christians serving people they didn’t know well.
And that’s scary for some. And that’s uncomfortable for others. And that’s inconvenient for all. And that’s why prayer is absolutely necessary.
Ministry is a costly endeavor. Whether missionaries going to undeveloped countries or you and I serving new people from our community, there is the danger of getting hurt or cheated. We must pray for discernment, so that in serving those we don’t know well, we are as Jesus taught, “innocent as doves and wise as serpents.”
Whatever is keeping us from reaching out and serving those we don’t know well is a subject for prayer. If fear keeps us from reaching out and serving others, we need to pray for courage. If apathy keeps us from reaching out and serving others, we need to pray for love. If selfishness keeps us from reaching out and serving others, we need to pray for generosity.
In addition to praying for ourselves, we must pray for those we don’t know well. We must pray for God’s mercy in their lives. We must pray that their hearts are receptive to the things of God. The old cliché is true: “We must talk to God about people before we talk to people about God.” Otherwise, we are introducing God as a concept rather than God as a Friend to others.
Second, prayer is needed in ministry, because ministry requires that we share gifts we don’t inventory. Verses 5-8
Paul points to the gifts we share with others as we minister to them: “… the faith and love that springs from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven.” Unfortunately, we do not have faith, hope and love in of ourselves. They are gifts from Heaven. And only prayer and knowledge of God’s Word may unlock these gifts to be shared with others.