Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Prayer

Who are you praying for today? Your children? Yourself? Your husband, friends, family members, pastor, coworkers? Do you always know what to ask for when you pray? If you’re like me, you don’t. We want to pray in God’s will, but when we’re not sure what that is in a specific case, how should we pray? Well, for the last few days, I’ve been soaking my mind in a particular passage from Colossians 1. Verses 9-14 have given me some real fuel for prayer, so I thought I might go through it with you today and share some of what has encouraged me. Let’s take it verse by verse, shall we?

9: For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
This tells me, first of all, never stop praying! Do not cease to pray for those you are called to pray for. Ask the Lord to fill them with the knowledge of His will, and to give them wisdom and spiritual understanding. Ask the same for yourself. We all need to know the will of God, in whatever 
circumstance he’s willing to reveal it. If we don’t ask for wisdom, we will not have it (James 1:5).

10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Who of us does not desire to walk worthy of the Lord? In other words, we want our lives to show that we know the price He paid for our freedom! While we will never be “worthy” of His sacrifice in one sense, our desire is for Him to be pleased with our thoughts and actions. We want to show that we know the terrible pain He endured to purchase our souls, and that we are grateful.
Are you bearing fruit in every good work? What good works are you doing? While it can be difficult to serve in some ways when we are suffering with pain and disability, there is always something we can do to show love to others and thereby serve the Lord. Even a phone call or a prayer can produce abundant fruit if it is done in love and with a heart for Him. Remember, faith without works is dead (James 2:17).

I think it is interesting that Paul includes “increasing in the knowledge of God” in the same sentence as walking, pleasing, and working. This tells me that these actions are related, and I find this to be true pretty consistently in my own life. When I am walking worthy of the Lord, desiring to please Him, and bearing fruit, my knowledge of Him does increase. How can it help but be so? Walking, pleasing, and working are the result of thinking about God, and thinking about Him will always increase our knowledge of Him, as we meditate on His attributes and praise Him for who He is.

11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

The first word of this verse is what I am after almost constantly. Physical pain can wear a person out! Even doing very little, when one is experiencing ongoing pain, is exhausting. (I know, I’m preaching to the choir!) I had a lovely morning with my granddaughter today, just painting pictures and playing games, and when she left, though I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I was pooped! With a grocery store and preparing a meal for company still on my “to-do” list, I had to stop to pray, asking the Lord to strengthen me for the tasks he’d called me to do. I need to be strengthened with all might if I am going to make the most of the remains of the day, so an infusion of His glorious power is exactly what I asked Him for. My faithful Father did not disappoint. He granted me the strength to do the errands, including patience through a long line at the store, and a wonderful evening with a dear family member.

12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

God wants our gratitude almost as much as we need His strength! Do a study to see how many times the command to be grateful occurs, just in the New Testament. God deserves and enjoys our thanks and praise. These should flow naturally, as we enjoy His strength and blessings in our lives. If you are not grateful, you are not thinking rightly. My guess is that you are thinking more about your pain, or the circumstances you wish were different, than you are about God and the many ways He has blessed you. If you are not characteristically thankful, take a moment right now and repent of the habit of discontentment. He will forgive, and He will help you to retrain your mind. After all, He qualified you for the ultimate reward—eternity with Him! He can surely teach you to be a grateful saint.

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Read that again. Read it one more time. Can you feel the impact of this statement? Think about what you have been delivered from. Where was your life headed when Christ reached down into the pit you’d dug for yourself and pulled you out? Take a moment to thank and praise Him for that right now. Then, meditate on the kingdom of which you are now a part. Contrast the two, and be in awe of the mercy and love of God. Imagine your life without Him, just for a moment. Now, pray for those you know and love who are still happily mucking around in their pit. Pray for those who are miserable in their lostness. If you have tried to persuade them and been rejected, pray that the Lord would send another saint into their lives, to whom they will listen. Believe that He is able to save them, no matter how hard their heart may seem to you.

You and I have been redeemed, my friend. Bought with a price. We are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:20). We often think that we are, but we are not. Meditating on passages like this one will help to remind us of this truth, and encourage us to persevere in prayer, even when we’re not sure what to pray for. Here it is one more time, just to wrap up. Read it for what it says, and bask in its truth today.
 

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.  --Colossians 1:9-14