Summary: Just as Paul was vigilant in his habit of praying for believers everywhere, so too we can use his powerful prayer passage to pray for others to lead lives worthy of the Lord, to bear fruit, to grow in the knowledge of God, to endure with patience and to j
Oct. 14, 2001
How to Pray with Power
Good morning! Several weekends ago I experienced a tremendously traumatic event. I was stung by a bee. Maxine had gone to the church to lead worship practice. I had stayed at home with the kids because Austin was not feeling well. Josh and I had just finished breakfast and we let the dog ( our killer poodle) back in the house. In doing so, we also let in a bee. I explained to Joshua that I am allergic to bee stings and that if I ever got stung I may have to go the hospital. I could not find the fly swatter so I did what any manly man would do - I knock him right out of the air! About half an hour later I was cleaning the kitchen and walked into the dining room to get the paper towels and stepped on something. I immediately recognized that I had stepped on the bee - the dead bee. It had stung me and I began to do what any manly man would do. I yelled and screamed and ran all around the house. I woke Austin up and Joshua turned white as a sheet. I called Maxine at the church and told her what happened. Joshua got on the phone and said "Mommy, get off the phone right now! I have to call 911 and get daddy an ambulance! Now do what I say! "Needless to say, I did survive thanks to Dr. Wong. There is a point to this story.
We have an enemy and he is a defeated bee. Just a chapter farther in Colossians we read -- "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made us alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Col 2:13-15. But he still has a stinger. Peter calls him a "roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8). One of the ways that Satan uses his stinger is by distorting the Word of God. John 8:44 says "he is a liar and the father of lies." In the church at Colosse, Satan had used individuals to confuse the people about doctrine. This is one of the primary reasons for Paul’s concern.
As Pastor Brian pointed out last week, people were claiming to have special knowledge (later known as Gnostics). They were the "in crowd." Also, some were advocating adhering to strict Jewish rules, worship of angels, and mistreatment of the body. It is with these serious distortions in mind that Paul powerfully prays for this church.
The first eight verses comprise the introduction. As we learned last week, Paul thanks God for the Colossians themselves - for their faith hope and love. He is thankful for the Gospel that is bearing fruit. And he is especially thankful for Epaphras, "our dear fellow servant and a faithful minister," the pastor of the church who has brought a report to Paul concerning their "love in the Spirit." Now this leads Paul, as it does in so many of his other letters, to prayer.
Verses nine through fourteen record Paul’s prayer. It is divided into two parts. Verses 9-12a begins the body of the letter and, as Dr. Grant Richison has stated, it "is a prayer that touches all the bases of their needs." In verses 12b-14 Paul gives thanks for the finished work of Christ on their behalf.
Pray that they may know God’s PURPOSES for their lives
Verse nine begins: “For this reason, since the day we hear about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
"For this reason" - what reason? What he had been writing about in the first eight verses! The Colossians faith, hope, and love and the powerful effect the Gospel was having on the churches.
"Ever since we heard about you" - who is we? Remember from verse one that Timothy was with him even though he was in prison in Rome. And also remember that Paul had never personally met these believers.
“We have not stopped praying for you and asking God" - Paul knew that the power to change situations lay in prayer. In his letter to the church at Thesolonica Paul encourages the believers to "pray continually." (I Thes 5:17) To the church at Ephesus, Paul tells them to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kind of prayers and requests.” With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18) (which Pastor Brian pointed out would include all who have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.) And James, the brother of Jesus, writes "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16). Pastor Jim Moody states: "The most powerful thing anyone can do for someone else is to pray for them, because through prayer you and I can touch the heart of God who in turn can touch anyone, anywhere regardless of circumstances. The power is not in the prayer itself, but in the power that God releases in response to the prayer." Perhaps it is time for "Operation Enduring Prayer" - we must be committed to pray consistently for God to do His work here at PBC.