By Brooke Holt
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:1-8)
Who are you more inclined to listen to—one who has walked beside you, prayed for you, and clearly wants the very best for your life, or an unknown preacher or prayer minister who walks into your church one Sunday? While the church of Colossae knew of Paul as a preacher, they had no relationship with him. He did not plant those churches or know the people there. Paul heard of them and longed to encourage them in good theology and spiritual growth. What better way to demonstrate his love than to tell them about his continual prayers on their behalf?
Can you imagine how these people must have felt knowing this apostle was praying continually for them and then taking the time to write a letter for their edification? And right from the start, it was great encouragement and affirmation as Paul affirmed their identity in Christ as God’s set-apart people (saints). Paul delighted to hear of their growing faith and the fruit they bore for God’s kingdom. Love and authentic affirmation open hearts and make way for trust to grow.
Paul knew his words must be grounded in love if these people were to receive them. That is why Paul prayed fervently and continually before he wrote a word. Even the Apostle Paul would not offer advice, encouragement, or teaching before praying. Prayer preceded every aspect of his ministry because he knew his words were meaningless without the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance. Thus, Paul prayed, and then he prayed again and again. You get the point!
What is the role of prayer in your life, and what does God want it to be? Prayer is so much more than a blessing before meals or even the Lord’s Prayer at church on Sundays (though both are good). Prayer is an ongoing dialogue with your heavenly Father. It is about speaking honestly with the Lord and then listening to him. Prayer is about bringing your authentic self before the King of kings who is also your “Abba, Father” and then allowing God’s Spirit to shape your heart, mind, and spirit.
Prayer is vital to our relationship with the Lord and fulfilling our God-given callings in this world. The Lord would have us all learn from Paul’s ministry. Prayer is to shape and direct everything in our lives.
What is the role of prayer in your life? How is the Lord inviting you to go deeper into a prayer life? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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