Study 8 PAUL’S PRAYER FOR HIS FRIENDS
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis W. Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Colossians 1:9-14)
Some of the richest portions of Paul’s letters are those containing his prayers for the saints. Paul was a man of prayer; he not only believed in prayer, but he prayed. His Christian life began in prayer (Acts 9:10-11); he prayed for himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-9); and he asked others to pray for him (Ephesians 6:18-20). But in addition to this he practised intercession, praying for others, like his Lord (John 17:9). The prayer which we are considering is a combination of praise and prayer, and all our prayers should be mixed with much praise (Philippians 4:6). Paul was filled with praise (Colossians 1:3 and 12); and with prayer (verses 3 and 9). Verses 9-14 tell us what he prayed for.
1. The Characteristics of Paul’s prayer for his friends.
What was Paul’s prayer like? Verse 9 tells us three things about it:-
- (1) It was marked by Persistency. The words in verse 9, “We have not stopped praying for you…” tell us that Paul knew something about unceasing prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and compare Luke 18:1. Prayer is a warfare (Ephesians 6:12); and if we give up when we are praying the battle goes to the enemy. We need the grace of continuance (compare Acts 2:42 with 1 Samuel 12:23).
- (2) It was marked by Intensity. Paul was passionate in his praying – he was filled with a deep longing. Look up Matthew 17:21 and read the story in 1 Kings 17:17-24. Do we know anything about prayer which is accompanied by fasting? – read Nehemiah 1:1-11!
- (3) It was marked by Unity. In verse 9 Paul also says, “We have not stopped praying for you.” We may pray alone (Matthew 6:6 and James 5:17); but there is special power in united, corporate prayer (Matthew 18:19 and Acts 12:5).
2. The Content of Paul’s prayer for his friends.
In Colossians 1:9-14 we are told that Paul prayed for seven things:-
- (1) That they might be given Perception. In verse 9 Paul prayed that God would fill the Colossians “with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” We have no greater need than for spiritual enlightenment in order that we might know the will of God and do it. By nature we cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14 and John 3:2-3). How many Christians lack spiritual understanding (1 John 2:20)!
- (2) That they might lead lives Pleasing to the Lord. This is mentioned in verse 10: “that you may.…please him in every way” Our greatest ambition should be to please the Lord in all things – look up and compare Romans 15:3 and Galatians 1:10.
- (3) That they might engage in Profitable service. Verse 10 says, “…bearing fruit in every good work…” Until we become Christians our lives are unprofitable, and it is only when we are converted that they are made profitable (Philemon verses 10-11). God’s will is that our lives should be fruitful, that they should show the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Compare 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and 2 Peter 1:5-7. Also compare Acts 13:13 with 2 Timothy 4:11.
- (4) That they might make Progress in the Christian life. Verse 10 continues – “…growing in the knowledge of God”, and the operative word is “growing”. Paul longed that these Christians at Colosse should grow. So many Christians do not, and it is only as we know the Lord that we grow spiritually and morally (Daniel 11:32). See the beautiful picture contained in Hosea 14:5-7. The Christian life is in three stages – “children”, “fathers”, “young men” – look up 1 John 2:12-14.
- (5) That they might be endued with Power. Verse 11 goes on – “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…” Here Paul prays that these Colossian Christians might have the experience of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), because none of these things are possible in our own strength (Ephesians 3:16 and Philippians 2:13). Potentially, the power of the Holy Spirit has been given to us – but what about experimentally? – look up Acts 1:8.
- (6) That they might have Patience. In verse 11 there are three vital words – endurance, patience and joy, and the apostle prays that these Christians might endure in the face of fierce testing, that they might do so with a gentle and loving spirit, and that they might be filled with joy, even though called upon to suffer for their Lord (Acts 5:41, and compare 1 Peter 4:13).
- (7) That they might be filled with Praise. It is very important to notice the difference between praise and prayer. There are some things for which we are to pray, which we have noticed; but there are other great blessings to thank God for, because He has already given them to us – notice the word “have” in verse 14. What are they?
- (1) Thank God for His Provision (verse 12). He has given us an “inheritance” – compare 1 Peter 1:4.
- (2) Thank God for His Power (verse 13). He has rescued us from and brought us into – compare Exodus 14:13-31.
- (3) Thank God for His Pardon (verse 14). How we should thank God that all our sins have been removed from us, swept away, hurled into the depths of the sea, and that God will remember them against us no more! – look up Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 44:22; Micah 7:19 and Hebrews 10:17.