Summary: To discuss how we can use the example of Paul and others in Scripture to pray through Scriptures for ourselves and others
SBC Philippi am
8/1/04, Rev. Jeff Simms
Praying the Scriptures
Primary Purpose: To examine how Paul prayed, so that we might pray according to God’s will for each other.
There is a way of taking scripture and personalizing it in your prayers that I want to show you an example of today. We can take a example of prayer found in scripture and by omitting the word “you” and inserting the name of the person your praying for you pray the scriptures for them. To understand this we look at Paul’s prayer for the Colossians.
Colossae was a very different type of town and situation than the church in Ephesus that we looked at last week. While Ephesus was in the middle of everything, Colossae was close to nothing. This town is declining in population while other towns around it are growing. While Paul had spent 2 years in Ephesus, Paul didn’t know the Colossians personally. One of Paul’s disciples, who most likely was originally sent out by Paul while in Ephesus was Epaphras. He had come to tell Paul who was in a Roman prison at this time about his ministry in Colossae. He brought news of great victories. The church was experiencing great faith, love and hope. But, they were also struggling with some heresy. When Paul receives word of this church he begins to pray for them. Let’s look at what he prays.
First, notice that he says about his prayers that since the day he heard about them his prayers for them have been unceasing. This highlights the fact that Paul was continually bearing them up to the Father. He was content with just one or two prayers. They were constantly on his heart. This is part of what it means to be a priest or to minister to others. You enter into their pain and their concerns become yours. Your heart breaks when their heart breaks, their concerns become your concerns. Paul was concerned about them, not himself, even though he was in prison. Aaron was one of the first priests of the Old Testament. This bearing the concerns of the people was symbolized by the names of the 12 tribes of Israel being written on the breastplate of Aaron, right above his heart (Exodus 28:29) It says, “Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place for a memorial before the Lord continually.”
Paul prayed that they would be filled with true knowledge and understanding. He didn’t want them to only have a part of it or a sense of it, but to be filled with it. The word filled means to be controlled by or fully equipped. God doesn’t desire for us to walk around in ignorance or to be lacking in anything. But, a key resource for us is His Word, that we might be equipped with knowledge. Paul’s words to Timothy apply to each one of us in 2 Timothy 2:15 he told Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” This is a good prayer for us to pray for each other. I pray that you would be filled up with the full measure of God’s Word, that you might not be lacking in anything, but fully equipped. I pray that you would hunger and thirst after God’s Word that you might grow in your faith.
Second, he is praying for a practical obedience. He desires for them to live out their lives in such a manner that they would please him in all respects. That they would be fruitful in their work and ministry. It isn’t enough just to have knowledge, but that knowledge should have practical application to it. What difference does it make to you that you know God’s Word. It should lead to a ministry that is a blessing to others and is fruitful. For Paul, growing up in the faith meant you were growing in power, endurance, patience and joy. We should pray for one another that the Spirit of God might be on display in our lives in the good times and the bad.
Max Lucado tells a story in a book called “It’s Not About Me” about a friend of his who had cancer. Some well intentioned Christians had told him ‘If you have faith, then you will be healed”. But, no healing came, only a crisis in faith in that man’s life. Max suggested another answer to him, “It’s not about you”, I told him. “Your hospital room is a showcase for your Maker. Your faith in the face in suffering cranks up the volume of God’s song.” (I Not About You, pg.126) What if we all took that attitude all the time. That no matter what we are going through, this is God’ way of cranking up the volume for Him to get more glory for Him. Paul’s prayer and our prayer for each other should be, “May God be Glorifed through this brother or sister and the way they live, both in good and bad times.”