Read Colossians 1:3-14.
In Colossians 3, Paul is not really talking about prayer, he is actually praying. And his prayer is perhaps unusual to us. His prayer consists of words of absolute certainty. How often do we pray like that?
How often are our prayers nothing but uncertainty? Uncertainty, born out uncertain circumstances?
But not for Paul. In fact, prayer is the very heart and soul of Colossians—this letter that Paul wrote to a church he never even visited. In our text we learn that Epaphras was the founding pastor of this church, and Paul is simply offering a prayer for this congregation that he’s heard soooo much about. Paul prays that they would “bear fruit in every good work, and grow in the knowledge of God” in order that they might enjoy a life of endurance and patience and joyful thanksgiving.
In essence, Paul is giving us a first-hand view of what prayer is for, which means that Christian prayer is not just random requests or wishes thrown God’s way; it is a request born out of the certainty of knowing that in Christ, we are God’s people and that means we are people of purpose.
So, perhaps, while a “baby Christian”—someone who is new to the faith—might think of prayer like a wishing well, the Christian who is growing in faith and his purpose in Christ understands that his prayer has a purpose, too.
Growing as a Christian is about measuring yourself by faith. How do you compare to a year ago? Are you measuring up to Christ? Prayer is how we measure ourselves and our growth in faith.
- Do you still have just as big a problem with your temper as you did in your youth?
- When misfortune strikes, are you more prone to grumble or be grateful?
- Is the portion of your offering (your financial gift to God), growing or shrinking?
- Do you still try to manipulate and control others through tantrums and emotional blackmail?
- How would your friends and family rate you in all these areas?
The primary purpose of prayer is talking with God about our faith development. Has your spiritual growth been stunted? Is your faith growing or shrinking. Are you further along than you were before?
To be candid, not a week goes by that my soul doesn’t cry out in prayer – How long, O Lord? How long before I grow up? And the devil is right there. Waving his finger in my face to say, “You’ll NEVER make it, Aaron!” But it’s a lie. My Baptism is the proof of that. In my Baptism my sin was washed away. God adopted me into His family. I became a new person. And for me it’s always been that way because, I was baptized as a baby. I’ve grown up knowing that whenever Satan confronts me with those doubts, I can with certainty, turn to God and talk it over with Him in prayer, just like any boy talks to his dad.
Christianity is vastly more than just sitting in your seat for one hour each week looking bored with the preacher. Christianity is not a life of indifference. It springs from a desire to grow in our relationship with God and relationships grow through conversation. God speaks to us through His Word, we respond to God in prayer—that’s how the conversations works.
When I start looking at life this way, it means the most important questions in every circumstance are not, “What do I want? What do I think? What do I need? What do I feel?” The right questions are always this: “How can I glorify You, O Lord?” What can I do to show love and obedience and trust in You, O Lord? God, how can I respond and react in a way that You would be pleasing to You? How can my words honor You?
Ask these questions in prayer, because then, we always end-up with the right answer.
A lot of the time in life we don’t know what’s going on. We think we do. We think we know what we want. We think we know what we need. So we do what we think is best rather than what would glorify God, And we end-up making our life more difficult, our witness more corrupted, and we make others more confused.
In the middle of it, we’ve gotta keep our head and say, I need to take council from my Lord. I need to listen to my Lord. I need to obey my Lord, Because He knows what’s going on.
That is prayer with power… when it comes from that kind of certainty. Okay!