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Janet's Corner

Home | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005
A Heart Devoted to Prayer

Our theme for Colossians has been “A Heart United, Encouraged, and Captivated. Colossians 2: 2 states, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

As we have seen the parallels between the times in which Paul was writing and our times today, the words that Paul wrote are truths we need to hear. There were many things that were kidnapping the new believers in Christ  - taking them away from the truths of the gospel. Paul calls to us through these words in Colossians to yield to God captivating our hearts with His ways and wisdom. That would be God’s desire - to captivate us with all that He is and all that we are in Christ.

In these few verses in Colossians, Paul again concentrates on the importance of prayer in the life of a believer.

Let’s read Colossians 4:2-4, 12-13.

Paul began this letter with a prayer for the Colossians and now he calls them to pray – to be devoted to prayer. Not only was the word of truth important for them to grow in their relationship with Christ, but so was praying. Prayer is necessary to nourish our spiritual life. Some say that as breathing is to our physical life, praying is to our spiritual life. It’s the oxygen for our spirits!

When we speak of prayer we mean heart to heart communication with God. It is speaking to God and listening to God. As a believer, our hearts are stirred to communicate with the One in whom we live and move and have our being. We will not find fullness of life in Christ, without prayer being a vital part of our lives. By the emphasis of prayer in this short letter to the Colossians, Paul demonstrates the priority prayer had in his life. Not only was teaching and preaching important, but praying was essential.

Prayer is a huge topic to study through the word of God. Besides the Word, there are many books on prayer. For today we are going to focus mainly on the call to prayer Paul gives us here in Colossians. I hope these few verses will challenge you in examining your own prayer life.

In these verses, Paul calls us to four attitudes in prayer.

Be devoted, be watchful, be thankful and be purposeful.

Be devoted to prayer: The word devoted means to continue in, be steadfast in. What might we say? Don’t quit praying!! We need to be faithful in communicating with God. We can’t minimize the value of prayer. Paul says in Thessalonians – “pray without ceasing.” Our hearts need to be turned to God in all things,  in all circumstances – speaking to him and listening. It’s a way of life – a mind set – knowing that God hears and answers prayer - that he is listening for you to speak to Him. Have you ever sat at the dinner table and there is a lull in the conversation…Sometimes it is a needed break of all the chatter, but with our relationship with God he is looking for that conversation and doesn’t want there to be a lull. As I was preparing this lesson I began asking myself what keeps me from praying…specifically here, what keeps me from being devoted to prayer.  I thought of the clock – Do I plan my day with time to pray? Maybe that means getting up a little earlier or staying up later or taking time throughout my day, whether it be while driving or cooking or doing the wash, to pray, allowing God to bring people and circumstances to your mind to pray for.  Paul says don’t quit praying!!!

He also encourages us to be watchful in prayer – be alert to pray for others and be alert while you are praying. When praying we need to be alert to the voice of God directing us, giving us wisdom, reminding us of his truth, or  bringing to mind urgent needs for which to pray. Have you heard his voice lately? What keeps me from being alert in prayer? Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? Maybe that’s not the best time for you to dedicate to prayer. When we think of falling asleep when praying, I am relating it to a dedicated time to pray. What about as we go about our day and forget to be alert to pray. Our schedules can be so busy we miss the opportunities to pray for others or we try on our own to orchestrate our day that we don’t even call on him to help us. Paul says be alert in prayer. It has to do with our mind set on things above…

Paul says be thankful in prayer: Thanksgiving is a critical part of prayer. God desires us to have this attitude. In fact in Philippians 4:6, it is part of the antidote for anxiety. “Be anxious for nothing, but with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving make you requests be known to God.” Is thanking God part of your prayers?

Paul says be purposeful in prayer:

He first asks for prayer for himself. Remember where Paul is when he writes this letter? What does he ask for? Not for his own release and relief from imprisonment, but that God would open the doors where he is to be able to share the gospel with those around him. He asks that he could proclaim clearly the mystery for which he is in chains. The reason that brought him there is the very thing he wants to keep proclaiming – he looks at his circumstances as an opportunity to share the freedom and life others can have through Christ. Are you in chains? What’s your focus in prayer? Yourself or others?

 

Not only does he pray for the opportunity for those to know Christ, but in verses 12-13, he notes that Epaphras is praying for others to grow in Christ.

In fact, Epaphras is wrestling for them in prayer. One of the translations says laboring earnestly. There were lots of things coming against the spiritual growth of the early believers. It is not any different today. We have an enemy of our soul – not just our flesh that rise up and drags us away from walking in the truth, but also the devil himself who will give us options or distractions or deceptions, that we need to stand firm in our faith against. Listen to his prayer - Epaphras is “wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature, and fully assured.” Do you use scripture to pray for those whom you wrestle in prayer?

There are two verses that make this concept concrete for me…

Remember that John who wrote each of these verses is the one who recorded the words of Jesus, “My word is spirit and life.” The Word is essential to our spiritual lives, including  in our prayer.

John 15:7 “If you remain in me, and my word remains in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.” Allowing God’s word to be active and evident in your life is essential to answered prayer.

I John5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if  we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us –whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.”

God’s will is revealed to us through His word. So we ask according to his Word. Ask according to what God wants to do and give, not what we want done. This is an example of prayer we could use for others to grow in the Lord, to be protected from the things that could kidnap them, or to be assured of God’s will or their faith.

 

What does in mean to have a heart devoted to prayer? Maybe a prayer itself would help us understand that. Years ago on the plains of southern England, a community of Christian believers came into existence in the area still referred to by its Latin name Sarum. It is the area of England including the ancient circles of stone and wood, the most well known being Stonehenge. This city of Sarum was the site of a thriving early Christian community. To this day the cathedral of Salisbury is a witness of the faith of believers throughout the ages in this part of the world. There is a preserved prayer in the “Sarum Missal” written by an unknown Christian that I would like to share with you to draw you to a deeper more meaningful place of prayer in your personal life.

 

God be in my head and in my understanding;

God be in my eyes and in my looking;

God be in my mouth and in my speaking;

God be in my heart and in my thinking;

God be at my end and at my departing.