We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
- Colossians 1:3-14
“While working on the Student Bible my colleague and I made a selection of great prayers of the Bible, which can be read in a two-week period, one prayer per day. Some are intimate and private while others were delivered in a very public setting. Each gives an actual example of a person talking to God about an important matter and teaches something unique about prayer:”
- Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?
I will be intermittently away from the keyboard for much of many of the days for about two weeks. I had been praying about what I could write during this period, or for this period. I try to stay a few days ahead in my writing, but with my cataract surgeries, and – confession time a little laziness – along with the heavy doctor visit schedule, I was writing my posts just in time. (Pardon the typos, if there were any. Really my biggest problem is changing verb tense, at will, throughout paragraphs, and within a sentence as Yancey does in the quote, but homonyms and blatant typos do exist after several reviews.) I had just read Yancey’s book, and I thought of his list of prayers. The chapter on Prayers in the Bible had started with the Lord’s prayer, gone to the Psalms as a whole, and included a general discussion on the prayers of Paul in his various letters. Then Yancey lists fourteen prayers after the paragraph above. The thought of this list struck me. Then when I re-read the page in the book, the words ‘two-week period’ struck me. Rather than the Holy Spirit striking me out with a third strike, I decided to write a few ideas – maybe some really short posts – for each prayer. I will copy the Yancey quote and this paragraph for each of the fourteen, so if you read every day, you can skip this with the remaining parts.
Of the 14 prayers in the Yancey list, this Scripture talks about prayer and gets specific in the topics of prayer, yet it is not an example prayer. The Scripture does a good job of describing intercessory prayer.
Yet, it is really a prayer of praise. Paul is praising the people of Colossae for their faith and love, but where do these things come from? They come from God. The Holy Spirit is the power behind the growth of the church. Yes, the people of Colossae are willing to be servants, vessels of the Holy Spirit’s power, but in praising the people of Colossae, the Apostle Paul is praising God for His work through these people who are being faithful to Him.
Through their efforts and their willingness to place all their faith in God, the church is growing and the people of Colossae are growing in knowledge. In fact, let’s look at the key words of the second paragraph: knowledge, wisdom, strength, power, joyful, endurance, and patience. It sounds like a god list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In our prayer life, do we think of praising God for such things that we might take for granted, yet they are gifts from God? When we pray, we should search ourselves and thank God for the gifts He has given us. When in intercessory prayer, we should praise God for the gifts that are exhibited in others, rather than simply praying for their health, job situation, or family troubles.
This concludes the series of “Other Prayers.” There are more prayers that can be found in the Bible. There are more examples of discussions describing what topics of prayer are being raised for another. But, repeating someone else’s prayer is not as effective as simply talking to a friend. When you call someone on the phone, you do not script what you will say. You do not memorize a poem and then quickly hang up the phone before they can reply. Why do we do that with God? In some situations, a short pray may be appropriate to ask God for help in that situation, but we need time set aside to simply talk.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.