Summary: Proposition: Effective prayer is characterized by earnestness, ferverency and energy.
WRESTLING IN PRAYER
Text: Col. 2:1-5
1. Illustration: During the dark days of the American Revolution, when the Continental Army had experienced several setbacks, a farmer who lived near the battlefield approached Washington's camp unheard. Suddenly his ears caught an earnest voice raised in agonizing prayer. On coming nearer he saw it was the great General, down on his knees in the snow, his cheeks wet with tears. He was asking God for assistance and guidance. The farmer crept away and returned home. He said to his family, "Its going to be all right. We are going to win!" What makes you think so? his wife asked. "Well," said the farmer, "I heard General Washington pray out in the woods today such fervent prayer I have never heard. And God will surely hear and answer that kind of praying."
2. Have you ever agonized in prayer? I mean have you ever been so desperate for an answer from God that you prayed from the depths of your being?
3. That is the kind of prayer that Paul prays for the churches in Colosse and Laodicea.
4. In this text Paul talks about...
A. Struggling In Prayer
B. Struggling For Understanding
C. Struggling For Faithfulness
5. Let's stand together as we read from Col. 2:1-5
Proposition: Effective prayer is characterized by earnestness, ferverency and energy.
Transition: First, Paul talks about...
I. Struggling In Prayer (1).
A. Agonized For You
1. Watchman Nee wrote, "Our prayers lay the track on which God's power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails."
2. Corrie Ten Boon expressed the life of being a vibrant Christian and she asks, "Is prayer a steering wheel or your spare tire?"
3. All mature adults appreciate the benefits of listening to a musician that has put a great deal of time and energy into their music. So it is with prayer. It is those who spend time in prayer individually, corporately and continually, who bless those for whom they have been praying.
4. In v. 1, Paul says, "I want you to know how much I have agonized for you..."
A. Paul's labor and struggle were not limited to those churches he had planted or even to people he knew personally. Paul also worked on behalf of those who had never met him.
B. He agonized for the Colossians in prayer and with the concern that had prompted the writing of this letter.
C. The New Testament writers used agony concerning the spiritual contest, which each Christian must endure; always in the background was the association of agony with the athletic games of Greece (The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary Alpha-Gamma, Under: "72).
D. The word refers to the contests, struggles, and efforts at the athletic games; the toil and conflict to obtain a victory.
E. It refers here to the anxious care, the mental conflict, and the earnest prayer, which he prayed on their behalf, in view of the dangers to which they were exposed to from the false teachers (Albert Barnes, Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, Under: "Colossians 2").
F. Paul struggled, knowing that the false teaching threatened to keep the Colossian believers from maturing in their faith.
5. In addition to the Colossians, Paul says he prayed, "...and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally."
A. Laodicea was located a few miles northwest of Colosse. Like the church at Colosse, the Laodicean church was probably founded by one of Paul's converts while Paul was staying in Ephesus, perhaps even Epaphras, who had founded the Colossian church.
B. The city was a wealthy center of trade and commerce, but later Christ would criticize the believers at Laodicea for their lukewarm commitment.
C. Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT)
15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!
16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
D. The fact that Paul mentioned this city and either wanted this letter to be passed on to the church there or wrote a separate one, indicates that false teaching may have spread there as well (Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 877).
E. Paul was so concerned for these two churches that he fought in prayer for their souls.
F. He struggled like Jesus did in the garden where it says that his sweat became like drops of blood.
B. Earnest Prayer
1. Illustration: Jim Cymbala discusses the importance of prayer in his new book Break Through Prayer:
He states, "Everywhere I travel, I keep hearing the defensive teaching that fervent prayer, heartfelt prayer is really overrated and not necessary today. Since God is love, some people reason, we just have to ask once and politely for what we need and everything will turn out fine. No need today for prayer meetings and prolonged times of waiting on the Lord, no answer comes. No, that's part of an old-fashioned, out-of-date theology that belongs to another era...Well, I have two questions in response to all that: 1. what do these words from the Bible mean? And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? (Luke 18:6-7) He also notes; If Jesus himself prayed with "loud cries and tears" at times, then we can certainly feel free and unashamed to pour out our souls to God" (22). 2. When it comes to de-emphasizing prayer and the prayer meeting in churches across the land, where are the spiritual results that prove we have found a better way?"