How to Pray With Purpose

How to Pray With Purpose October 15, 2018

How to Pray With Purpose

How to Pray with Purpose

Colossians 1:3-14

Have you ever written a “thank you” note to someone? On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon every Friday, he has a segment where he writes his “thank you” notes. These are notes of humor he introduces at the beginning of the show.

Here, Paul introduces his letter with a special “thank you” note. I want you to take a “thank you” note and as you listen to the sermon, think of someone to whom you are praying for. Either during or after the sermon, feel free to write out a thank you note to someone who needs a special prayer. Maybe it is a lost person. Maybe it is a Christian who is struggling. Maybe it is a neighbor. When we leave, you are welcome to write that card and send it out to them. But I want you to consider using the structure that Paul uses here in this section of his letter to Colossians.

We see a structure of a prayer that Paul said for the Colossian church members. Here, he starts by thanking God, then he makes a request, and then he ends by thanking God again. So we have a prayer sandwich. Perhaps you have heard of prayer walking? Or even prayer driving? Here, we have prayer eating. Paul is eating a prayer sandwich. So Paul is praying here for other Christians. He is “eating” a prayer sandwich.

TOP OF THE PRAYER SANDWICH – GIVING THANKS

WHEN

Paul says WHEN we pray for you (Colossians 1:3)

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,” (Colossians 1:3, CSB)

WHY

(Colossians 1:4-5)

Because of their FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE

1. FAITH in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:4)

for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints” (Colossians 1:4, CSB)

2. LOVE for other Christians (Colossians 1:4)

for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints” (Colossians 1:4, CSB)

3. HOPE reserved in Heaven (Colossians 1:5)

because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:5, CSB)

This hope comes from the “word of truth” or the Gospel which was shared with them (Colossians 1:6).

that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and came to truly appreciate God’s grace.” (Colossians 1:6, CSB)

So the Gospel gives us hope, which allows us to place our faith in Jesus Christ, and gives us the energy and power to love others.

Similar to Paul’s expressions of faith, hope, and love elsewhere in his letters.

WHAT

FOUR POSITIVE PRAYER REQUESTS TO PRAY FOR OTHER CHRISTIANS

Because there has been a positive change in God’s people and positive results

Positive change (Colossians 1:4-5)

for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:4–5, CSB)

Positive results (Colossians 1:6)

that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and came to truly appreciate God’s grace.” (Colossians 1:6, CSB)

Positive ministry (Colossians 1:7)

You learned this from Epaphras, our dearly loved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,” (Colossians 1:7, CSB)

Positive commitment (Colossians 1:8)

and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:8, CSB)

There were believers who listened to the Holy Spirit and loved God and others accordingly. They were committed to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

HOW OFTEN

Regularly/Daily (Colossians 1:9) “since the first day”

For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” (Colossians 1:9, CSB)

MIDDLE OF THE PRAYER SANDWICH – ASKING

FOUR PRAYER REQUESTS TO LIFT TO HELP OTHERS PLEASE GOD1

1. Know God’s will (Colossians 1:9)

For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” (Colossians 1:9, HCSB)

Knowing what God wants you to do takes spiritual wisdom and discernment. It helps when I take the time to pray that my Christian may learn and understand God’s will.

2. Improve their spiritual relationship with Jesus (Colossians 1:10)

so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10, HCSB)

Understanding God’s will only happen as I continue my relationship with Jesus. Many Christians treat their relationship to Jesus like a date that happens once a week on Sunday or even just on occasion. Yet God designed Christians to have a relationship with Jesus every day.

Many times one is distracted and that prevents one from growing in their relationship with Jesus. Whether it is a result of sin or distraction or some other difficulty, Christians sometimes let their relationship with Jesus drift. If a husband or wife did that in a marriage, it would soon end in a divorce. Because the marriage would have stalled and the person would feel like they are growing in their relationship with their spouse. Then the same would be true in a Christian’s relationship with Jesus.

3. Receive spiritual strength (Colossians 1:11)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy” (Colossians 1:11, HCSB)

Trials are part of Christian growth. This is why a Christian is called to have patience and endurance. So when you see a Christian going through a trial, you can pray for powerful strength to come from God while these Christians are going through a trial. Because a Christian will either learn to be bitter or better on the other end of their difficult experiences.

4. Thank God with a joyful heart (Colossians 1:11-12)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.” (Colossians 1:11–12, HCSB)

Thankfulness is a signal of spiritual maturity. Someone who always asking for complaining how God is not helping is showing their immaturity. Significantly, many Christians who are thankful have been through trials and the trials have strengthened them. Thankfulness is an attitude that comes out of that difficult experience.

Here, Paul reminds the Colossians church that a Christian can be thankful for the many works that God has done for them. These works of God one could pray for another Christian, so that they may realize that their growth is tied to God’s work in their lives (Colossians 1:12-14).

“giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.” (Colossians 1:12–14, HCSB)

God has delivered them from the darkness. He has forgiven them of their sins. He has proven His love for them.

Prayer: God, please remind me to pray for the spiritual growth of my Christian friends and family. I want to thank you for giving the privilege of praying for the growth of Christian friends.

You thank God before you ask of God. Then after you have asked of God, you can thank God again.

BOTTOM OF THE PRAYER SANDWICH – GIVING THANKS

FOUR REMINDERS TO BE THANKFUL TO GOD2

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14, CSB)

Like a good Father, who loves His children, God has given Christians a good inheritance. As Christians, we need to be reminded of this inheritance. As fellow Christians, as we pray for other Christians, we need to pray for them that they are reminded of this inheritance. You can pray that a Christian remembers these four pictures of their inheritance.

1. He has delivered us – Rescue from darkness

The first picture is “deliverance” or “rescue.”

When we look at this transfer, we must remember that Satan is not equal to God. This separation is similar to the separation that God did of light from dark in Genesis.

God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:4, CSB)

Like a good Father, God separates the good from the evil. Light is separated out from darkness. As such, God gives us the domain of light.

For you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5, CSB)

2. He has transferred us – Transfer to God’s kingdom

The second picture is a “transfer.” Jesus has transferred us from a place where we were enslaved into a place where we have freedom.

3. He has redeemed us – Buyback of my life

The third picture is a “redemption.” Jesus has bought me back. Jesus satisfied God’s wrath. At the same time, He has released us from a payment of a ransom. When a terrorist asks for a ransom, it is because they are ready to threaten someone. He goes to a bank and threatens to kill everyone until the police pay him money. He will continue to threaten the police and the victims. When the police pays, then the terrorist will leave the people alone. But if you watch the movies, that is not true. Until the terrorist is caught, the terrorist will always threaten people around him. Like the movies, Jesus has defeated the terrorist. He has redeemed the victim’s life. He has paid the ransom that the terrorist asked for. It is just that the terrorist never received the money.

The problem today is that many people still think that Satan is terrorizing them. They still feel like they are in the bank and the terrorist is still demanding the ransom. Satan accuses. But he can never act on his threats. Jesus has already disarmed him. Jesus has already paid the debt and released us from Satan’s grip. When it comes to someone’s spiritual growth, we need to pray that the other Christian is reminded of this truth.

4. He has forgiven us – Forgiveness of sins

God has not just bought us back. He has also forgiven the sin. That means that although God has bought us back, we don’t have to pay Him back because of our sins. We don’t work to get our salvation. Instead, we choose to do good works because we have received salvation. God has forgiven us and that frees us to do good things.

So when you are praying for someone else. You can thank God, pray for others, and then thank God again. Because we all need encouragement from time to time.

The Colossian church wasn’t perfect and neither is this one or anyone; but Paul was thankful for their faith, love, and hope. Down through the chronicles of the history of the church, there have been problems—but the church has always been characterized by faith, love, and hope.3 Praying with purpose helps us to increase our faith, love, and hope for one another. May God fulfill His purpose in each and every one of us as we pray for one another.

1 Jim Erwin, “4 Requests When Praying for Someone Else’s Growth,” Colossians 1:9-14, 28 March 2017, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2017/03/28/praying-someones-spiritual-growth/, accessed on 21 September 2018.

2 Jim Erwin, “How to Pray for Someone’s Spiritual Growth,” Colossians 1:9-14, 7 November 2017, Internet, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2017/11/07/pray-someones-spiritual-growth/, accessed on 18 September 2018.

3 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2008 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 336.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

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