The Christian Passion
for Prayer and Conduct
Text: Colossians 4:1-6
In summer baseball, teenage boys play in what is called the “Pony League”—the next step up from “Little League”. A team of players were sitting on the bench in the dugout….getting beat 14-0.
During this long and losing game, the boys became restless and began to question Ritchie, their assistant coach, about his attractive sister. They asked things like, “How old is your sister?” and “Does she have a boyfriend?
Well, the head coach was already frustrated with them losing the game and got annoyed about what the boys were talking about. He gets the idea they don’t exactly have their minds on the game!
So, he hollered into the dugout, “Hey! When you guys are in the dugout, I want you boys to be talking baseball!”
There was complete silence in the dugout for about a minute and a half—then a voice from the end of the bench called out, “So, Ritchie, does your sister play baseball!”
Now that team may not have been motivated to win that baseball game…but they were motivated ! Their minds were dominated by one thought—Ritchie’s sister! The boys had lost their passion for the game, because it was dull and depressing. So, they turned to a passion that was a lot more exciting and which made life worth living!
Paul told the Christians at Colossae—and all Christians—we have a similar passion. When we are converted to Christ, we develop a new passion—a passion that makes life worth living! Christ is the passion that makes our lives unique and exciting….a passion the Apostle Paul tells us we must “never” lose.
---6---“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in Him.”
---1---“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keeping seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
---15---“Let the Peace of Christ rule in you hearts…”
---16---“Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you…”
---17---“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Again and again, Paul tells Christians to remember our relationship with Christ, and as Christians, our passion is to serve Him.
This morning, in our series over the Book of Colossians, we come to Colossians, Chapter 4.
---1---“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
---2---Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
---3---praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the Word, so that we make speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;
---4---that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
---5---Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
---6---Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
How can we tell if our relationship with Jesus is what we want it to be—and what He wants it to be?
We need to do a self-examination of who we are and what our passions are. Are we taking on Christ-like qualities as we should be following our conversion?
---9---“…and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created Him.”
If we are putting on this “new self”, then the beauty of Jesus can be see in us.
A little girl was on the way home from church when she turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”
The Mother replied, “Oh, why is that?”
The little girl said, “Well, the preacher said God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”
The Mother replied, “Yes. That’s true.”
Then the little girl said, “Well, he also said that God lives within us. Is that true?”
The Mother again replied, “Yes, that’s true too.”
“Well”, said the little girl, “If God is bigger than us….and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
Let’s think about that for a minute….God would show through, wouldn’t he? If God is bigger and He lives in us, then He IS going to show on the outside of us. He is bigger than us!
How do we make sure that happens?
How do we make sure that Jesus shows through us?
For this to happen, we have to be passionate about the things Jesus was passionate about. We Christians take on His qualities and think like He thinks.
---15---“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.”
What was Jesus passionate about?
Jesus Was Passionate About Saving the Lost.
---16---“For god so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
1st Timothy 1:15
---15---“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
· That is what motivated Jesus.
· That’s why He came—that’s why he died—and that’s why He arose from the dead!
Jesus was passionate about saving those who were lost. Is that our passion too?
Jesus Was Passionate About Prayer.
“He fell on His face and prayed.”
“He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
“He withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
“He continued all night in prayer to God.”
· Jesus prayed passionately and He was without sin.
· How much more should we pray—all of us with sin?
· Is God showing through us in our prayer life?
· Are we passionate for prayer unto God?
Paul tells the Christians at Colossae—the ones being beguiled by false teachers—to remain faithful to Christ and His Gospel and to be devoted to prayer.
---2---“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…”
We’re all busy and, maybe, we think we don’t have time to pray. But, Jesus was at the height of His ministry….ministering to thousands of people. Yet, He found time to pray.
No, no, that’s not right. He made time to pray!
Why would Jesus need to pray?
· I know why I need to pray, because I have lots of stuff to pray about.
· I have sins I need to confess, don’t you?
· I have problems I’m facing in my life—and I need wisdom!
Jesus had no sins to confess, and He had all wisdom.
Jesus was perfectly perfect.
He was perfect in word, thought, and deed.
Yet, Jesus had the desire to pray—He had a need to pray! And He prayed a lot…sometimes the entire night!
Prayer Is a Life Priority.
Prayer is vital for all Christians. Prayer should be a life priority!
James tells us, “You have not because you ask not.”
---9---“So I say to you; ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be open.”
Prayer Is Spiritual Warfare.
When we pray, we are doing the very thing that keeps us alive in Christ. This is spiritual warfare because we are told to devote ourselves to prayer, but also to be watchful or alert!
Because there is an adversary who roams around like a roaring lion seeking to destroy us.
We are calling on God to do something in the spiritual realm. We are waging war in the unseen realm so that we can see the blessing of God in the visible realm.
It seems that God’s actions are tied to His people’s willingness to pray. That fact is underscored in Ezekiel 22:30.
---30---“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land, so I would not destroy it, but I found none.”
2nd Chronicles 7:14
---14---“If My people who are called by My name would humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
Isaiah 62:6-7 (NASV)
---6---“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord; take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
Prayer Is Personal Praise.
Paul tells the Christians at Colossae to:
“….be watchful, engaged in spiritual warfare, and be thankful.” Thankfulness is the expression of our faith in God’s goodness.
Alfred Lord Tennyson writes,
More things are wrought by Prayer
than this world dreams of.
Wherefore, let thy voice rise like a fountain for me…
night and day
For what are men better than sheep or goats
that nourish a blind life within the brain.
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer,
both for themselves and those who call them friends.
Prayer can change lives—even lives on the other side of the world. Our prayer makes a real difference.
It is not a last hope—it is a daily necessity!
Let’s look at how prayer changes you and me.
How Prayer Changes Us.
Prayer can change our perspective by bring us closer to God. “Devote yourselves to prayer…”, Paul says. The very act of coming to that point of devotion is, in itself, spiritual discipline.
Prayer also changes our perspective by making us aware of danger. What danger? Remember—the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. Prayer makes us aware of the dangers, pitfalls, and the potholes. Paul says, “Be watchful.”
Prayer changes our perspective by reminding us of our blessings in Christ. For us to be thankful in prayer, we have to think of those things we are thankful about. There’s one of the “old” hymns that says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one”.
Prayer can change our opportunities.
---3---“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
---4---Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should.”
Paul was in prison for preaching the Gospel of Christ. Now, he asks the Colossian Christians to pray that God will open up…not the prison doors…but other opportunities for him to preach the Gospel to people; even there in prison. Prayer can change our opportunities by opening closed doors for us so that we may share with others.
· Do any of us have friends whose hearts are closed?
· Do any of us have relatives whose hearts are closed.
If so, do we think to ourselves, “How in the world can I penetrate that? How can I break through?”
Sadly, the answer is, “We can’t break through. We can’t kick in the door.” We need to keep praying God will open those doors.
When those doors are open, we need to pray God will give us the mental clarity to share the Gospel clearly. Paul told the Christians at Colossae to, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
I was listening to a preacher once and I had difficulty understanding what he was trying to convey. I thought to myself, “Boy, this guy is teaching really deep stuff!”
Then I changed my mind and thought, “No. This isn’t deep stuff—it’s just very, very muddy!”
You know, when some people can’t see the bottom of the river, they may think it’s deep. It may not be deep—just muddy!
The Gospel is a simple message; and we need to be mentally sharp as we share this message—clearly—with others. We need to pray to God for help in doing that. Paul did!
Pray can change our effectiveness. In verses 5 and 6 of Colossians, Chapter 4, Paul writes:
---5---“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
---6---Let your conversation be always full of Grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
James wrote, in Chapter 1, verse 5, “Pray for wisdom.”
Prayer changes and expands our effectiveness by giving us wisdom in dealing with unbelievers. We must be wise toward people who aren’t Christians—they’re watching us!
We must be wise about what we say and how we live around them. We need to pray that God will help us live a life that shows forth the proper conduct of true Christians.
The Christian Passion for Conduct.
Having set the pattern for us, Paul has focused in on our conduct, in verses 5 and 6. He tells us how a bigger God can show outside of us.
When we have the passion for the things Jesus had passion for, then God will be showing though us!
Paul said, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders…”. Why? Because that’s what Jesus would do.
“Make the most of every opportunity.” Why? Because that’s what Jesus did.
“Let your conversation be full of Grace.” Why? Because that’s how we bring them into contact with the One who can save their souls. Jesus was passionate for saving the lost, and we need to be passionate too!
When we fail to do this, we may push people away; and that’s something we never want to do.
Yes, God is bigger than we are and He lives in us. And, that means He must show through. When He fills us, and Christ shines through, then we can share that with others. It should be our passion.
There’s a story about a missionary in Africa. After converting a man to Christ, the missionary gave him a Bible and said, “Go share this with your family and friends!”
The man hugged the missionary and expressed great appreciation for the precious gift of God’s Word.
The missionary saw him a few days later and noticed, much to his dismay, the Bible looked like it was already falling apart! He also noticed a lot of the pages were missing.
So, he asked the man, “Hey! What happened? What did you do to your Bible? I thought you considered it a treasured possession?”
The man replied, “Indeed! It is a very precious possession. It is the finest gift I’ve every received. It is so precious that, when I returned to my village, I very carefully chose a page and tore it out and gave it to my Mother.”
“Then I found another page and tore it out and gave it to my Father. And I tore out another page and gave it to my wife. Finally, I gave a page of God’s Word to everybody who lives in my village.”
Clearly, this man did not understand the best technique for sharing God with the people he loved. However, he certainly had the passion for doing so!
Do we have a passion for sharing our Lord with others?
Do we have the passion of that man?
Paul gave the Christians at Colossae—and to us as well—the proper techniques for sharing Christ with others around us. We just need to follow the instructions.
We will do this only when it becomes our real passion!