Praying The Priorities

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Turn with me in your Bibles to Colossians chapter 1. As it is “Prayer Meeting” night, I thought, for a devotional, we’d look at a prayer of the Apostle Paul. Let’s start at:

Colossians 1:3-5 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

The Apostle was praying for the Church (praying always for you) because he had heard of their faith in Christ, and saw that their faith was evidently genuine.

The test of true faith is that it instills LOVE in the recipient. The Holy Spirit came to represent Jesus: “He SHALL testify of Me” (John 15:26). Christ commands we LOVE: “A New Commandment I give to you – love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The Spirit indwells the believer (Romans 8:9). Thus LOVE manifested outward proves an inward genuine faith in Christ.

Paul tells the Church that he has heard of the love which ye have to all the saints. This is because they are outwardly loving to one another. This is the mark of a genuine Christian. The genuine Christian loves all the saints, all the believers, regardless of their flaws.

Comparing The Churches: The Church at Colossae was a loving congregation. The Church at Corinth experienced a number of divisions and fighting, but not Colossae. The Christians there genuinely loved one another, and enjoyed one another’s company. No one chase after them or begged them to “come to Church”. They enjoyed being together in the family of God, in the Kingdom of God.

God Used A Little Known Man
To Plant The Church At Colossae

Who planted the Church at Colossae? You might guess it was one of the Apostles, but you’d be wrong. An unknown Gentile named Epaphras shared the Gospel in Colossae. We do not know who led Epaphras to the Lord Jesus (it was not Paul), but Epaphras was definitely a saved man. His name is only mentioned three times in the Bible, the first in …

Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Word Study: Here we see Paul describes Epaphras as a fellow-servant, the Greek σύνδουλος sýndoulos, {pronounced soon’-doo-los}, which means “someone who serves the same Master, one who in partnership with others serves the King (Matthew 18:28-33)”. Paul said that Epaphras served Jesus just as he did – he gave Epaphras an equal standing with himself, though he is an Apostle. Epaphras was a team player. He knew that the Body of Christ is not ONE person, but many working together for the glory of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

The Apostles and the Prophets provided the foundation of the Church by allowing God to send His Word through their writings (Ephesians 2:20). Yet the Church did not grow just because of these few.

The early Church grew because of people like Epaphras, people who realized each must do their part.

The second time Epaphras is mentioned is in:

Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

We see from this text that Epaphras
was a prayer warrior.

He labor(ed) fervently for the Church of Colossae in prayers. He prayed for the needs of the Church, so that it might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. A Church can be large, well situated, but not within the will of God. That a Church is “megasized” is no indication that it is pleasing to God. Is that Church shining for the Lord? Is it doing the will of God? Epaphras prayed that Colossae would learn the will of God, and live within that will.

Finally, we see in the third mention of Epaphras in …

Philemon 23 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus;

Epaphras was willing to suffer for Christ, just as Paul was. Both men were imprisoned together, and this may be how they met one another. Epaphras was willing to give his life for Jesus. He was willing to be uncomfortable for the glory of Christ. As the two men were in a Roman dungeon, in the midst of gloom and what many would consider a hopeless situation, both Paul and Epaphras did not waste their time.

How Did Paul and Epaphras Pray For Colossae?

Paul now tells the Church at Colossae what he and Epaphras have been praying for. We read:

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

When we pray, our prayers are often for our needs (Prayers of Supplication) or for the needs of others (Prayers of Intercession)

Prayers of Supplication and Intercession have their place, and are a part of the prayer spectrum. When Jesus walked this earth, the proof that He was Messiah was in that He healed the sick and cast out demons. Jesus raised the dead. Jesus never turned anyone away when they sincerely needed His help. When some friends of a paralyzed man heard that Jesus was in town, they took Jesus to the home He was staying in. Unable to get to Jesus for the crowd of people already there, they took their friend up to the roof of that home. Making and opening in the roof, they lowered their friend to Jesus (Mark 2:4). The Bible says:

Mark 2:5 (ESV) … when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

God loves to heal His children. He loves it when we bring our needs, or the needs of our friends and loved ones, to Him. The Scripture declares:

James 5:14-15 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

There is nothing wrong in praying for healing. Yet, if this is all of our prayers, we are missing the mark!

Think, for a moment, on what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. This is the model for prayer that Jesus gave us. Say it with me:

Matthew 6:9-13 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Where, in this model prayer, does Jesus tell us to pray for the sick? He doesn’t. We do see Prayers of Supplication in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus tells us that we are to pray for three things needs:

  • Our daily bread: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11)
  • Our sins to be forgiven: “And forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12)
  • That we not enter into temptation: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13)

The Lord’s Prayer focuses on our spiritual growth as believers. When Paul and Epaphras pray, they are praying for the spiritual growth of the Church at Colossae. They prayed:

  1. That the Church “might be filled with the knowledge of {God’s} will(verse 9)

Sometimes it is God’s will that we, or our loved ones, suffer. Suffering and trials are things that God uses to grow our faith. The Apostle wrote:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

It is not God’s will that every trial we go through be removed. God loved His Son Jesus. God the Father often said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And yet, when Jesus wept in Gethsemane, and prayed three times:

Matthew 26:39 (ESV) …. My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

Though the Father loves the Son and has put all things into Jesus’ hand (Matthew 11:27), our Jesus still had to drink of that Cup. The Apostle Paul suffered a debilitating disease, and – just as Jesus prayed three times – Paul prayed three times that the suffering would end. What was the Lord’s answer? He told Paul:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) {God} said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Did Paul go to pieces over this? No! Paul changed his attitude toward the affliction. He said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

  1. That the Church “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (verse 10)

Word Study: Though in one sense we are never worthy of God, we are nonetheless commanded that we walk worthy. The word translated “” is the Greek ἀξίως axíōs, {pronounced ax-ee’-oce}, which means “in a manner as becoming your status”. Lost people walk following the darkness. Saved people walk in the Light of God with Jesus Christ our Lord. God told Israel:

Isaiah 2:5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

God tells the Church:

1 John 1:7 … if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

And one day, when we get to Heaven,

Revelation 21:24 the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it

Paul and Epaphras also prayed:

  1. That the Church be “fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (verse 10)

To be fruitful, each believer in the Church must be bound to Jesus by love, and bound to our fellow believers in love. Jesus said:

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

To bear fruit, we must be bound together, loving one another, and loving Jesus. The Church that is divided will never experience the blessing of fruitfulness.

Paul and Epaphras also prayed:

  1. That the Church be “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power” (verse 11).

Our strength cannot come from our fleshly efforts, but from the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not say, “I can do all things”. No, it says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

God must do the work through us. We cannot do it, but God can. We are but feeble creatures. The Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Illustrate: Tell me if you’ve ever heard this story:

A little steam engine had a long line of cars to pull. Getting to a very steep hill, the engine tried and tried, but couldn’t get over the hill. She disconnected from the cars, and went down the track looking for help. She asked, “Will you help me pull my load over the hill?” One after another of the engines refused to help. One was off work, and ready to go home for the day. Another was too tired from a long run. One after the other refused to help. She came across another little steam engine just like her. She asked, “Will you help me pull my load over the hill?” The other little said, “I’ll be glad to help you, if I can”. Going back to the train of cars, they hooked together, and began to pull. What do you think they said?

“I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can!

Slowly the cars followed them over the hill. As they came down on the other side, they began to say:

I-thought-we-could! I-thought-we-could! I-thought-we-could!”

Have you ever heard that little story? This was a children’s book published in 1930 by publishers Platt & Munk. It’s a cute story that has been used to teach children to strive hard and never quit. But it’s not Biblical. It’s not the Christian way of life. We are to walk with God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, seeking to glorify Jesus. It is God Who strengthens us for whatever life may toss at us. Charles Stanley wrote:

“”That’s a nice children’s story, but the truth of the Christian life is very different. In the real world, our efforts and determination often fall short. Only by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit can we live a godly life.”

Finally, Paul and Epaphras pray …

  1. That the Church would be Giving thanks unto the Father, thankful for the blessings that God has given all Christians (verse 12).

We need to be thankful for this great salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. We need to be thankful that our salvation is complete in Jesus. The Scripture says:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I have heard it said – and I agree with the statement – that:

Attitude determines Altitude

If you are down in the dumps, negative, looking for every black cloud or every flaw, then your altitude will be zilch. The Christian is not to speak filthiness nor foolishness, but we are to use our lips to give thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). The Bible says:

Give thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20)
Give thanks to the Father (Colossians 1:12)
Give thanks while working (Colossians 3:17)
To praise God and give thanks continually (Hebrews 13:15)

Closing illustration: A Christian who worked with saddle horses for over 50 years said, “I’ve been thrown, bitten, kicked, and trampled, yet never seriously injured”. When asked why he thought this was, he said, “Before mounting, I always take a moment for a little prayer, asking for the Lord’s protection”. We all need to learn to pray – to take time to pray. Let us pray for our Church as Paul and Epaphras did, praying for the glory of God. May God bless us as we continue to walk with Him daily. Amen and amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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