Summary: The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 8 The Anatomy of Paul's Prayer Colossians 2:1-5 David Taylor March 15, 2015
The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 8
The Anatomy of Paul's Prayer
We are starting chapter two in Paul's letter to the Colossian church, in our series, “The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ.” Paul wrote this letter to help the Colossian church see Christ as supreme over all things and sufficient for our every need in the face of teaching that stated Christ was not supreme and sufficient. So far we have seen that Paul is thankful to God for the fruit of the gospel in their lives and prays that they be filled with spiritual wisdom. Then he paints a picture of Christ as preeminent overall things and reconciling all things to himself. Then he describes the implication of this reconciliation in the lives of those who have come to faith in Christ. And last week we saw “Paul's Service to Christ's Church,” and this week we look at “The Anatomy of Paul's Prayer.”
Big Idea – Paul prays for the Colossian church to be encouraged in their faith to experience the fullness of Christ more fully.
The Intensity of Paul's Prayer (vs. 1)
Paul describes having a great struggle, 'I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you.' He does not say his struggle is in prayer but we see the same word used later in the letter in reference to prayer and Paul uses the word when he asks the church at Rome to pray for him. That word, struggle, is where we get the word agonize from and as I said last week it refers to strenuous work. It is used of athletic games like wrestling or fighting. What makes this struggle in prayer astonishing is that he did not even know them! What kind of struggle is Paul talking about? I don't think he is talking about the struggle that many of us think of when we think of the struggle to pray when we don't feel like praying! The root of that issue is unbelief. We don't think God will hear us, answer us, or that it will make a difference to pray! That is when we must pray by faith and not sight. But for Paul I think his struggle was twofold. First, his struggle was a spiritual struggle pleading with God on their behalf because of the threat of the false teachers. He feared the devastating and eternal consequences of this false teaching taking root in the church. Second, his struggle was because prayer is a form of spiritual warfare. Interceding, praying for others, is warring against the forces of evil. Sometimes praying for others is the most effective form of ministry you can have in someone's life.
The Heart of Paul's Prayer (vs. 2-3)
Paul prayed that their hearts would be encouraged. The heart is where faith springs forth, so he is praying that their faith be strengthened to face the opposition of the false teaching. He wanted them to remain faithful to Christ. Second, he prays that they be knit together in love. Encouragement comes as we grow closer together in love and mutual support. Love is the glue that holds community together when outside forces, like false teaching, threatens to disrupt it. And since truth is what encourages our faith, Paul prays that the result of encouragement and growing in mutual support is that they 'reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.' Encouragement and authentic community leads to greater confidence in our faith as well as greater insight and knowledge of Christ! Do you ever struggle with doubt? Doubt his goodness? Your salvation? God's Forgiveness? Or God's love? All of us have doubted God in some way. Doubt is not all bad when it drives you to study or search out a subject. But James also tells us that the doubter is like waves of the sea tossed around and driven by the wind. When we are struggling with doubt, we are unstable and ineffective. Paul prays that they will be encouraged and grow in authentic community so they have full assurance, that is, confident and fully convinced in their faith which comes from understanding, and centers on Christ. The goal of encouragement and authentic community is that we might experience the confidence that comes from increased understanding as well as a more profound and life changing knowledge of Christ. There is so much to gain from being in genuine, open, honest, loving, and truthful relationships with people that know God and know the word. His point is that if we find strength from each other we will be more confident in our faith and experience the depths of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that is only found in Christ. We need each other to know and treasure Christ more deeply and when we do that we will be prepared when obstacles come our way. You hinder your spiritual growth if you are not in authentic community. Your spiritual growth, your confidence in your faith, and deepening your relationship with Christ require being part of an encouraging community of people. It is arrogant to think otherwise.