Meditations in Colossians: 14. Reasoned Prayer
Col 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you
People pray for a variety of reasons – but they always have reasons. Paul will go on to say what he prays as we read on, but for the moment he looks back. He prays because of the things he has been saying. What were these things?
Well in many ways this is a recap of what we have already considered, but it does make clear Paul’s motivation. He started out by saying that he prayed for them (even though he has never been to Colosse) and always gave thanks for them when he prayed (v.3) and the reason he gave thanks for them was because of what he had heard about them – their faith and their love (v.4), which was their response to the hope of their eternal inheritance (v.5) that put purpose into their present lives and gave assurance about their life after death. This had come with the Gospel which had born the fruit of salvation in them, and in many other places in the world where it was preached (v.6). As well as releasing faith and love, this Gospel impacted their lives as they heard and came to understand the wonderful grace of God (v.7). This Gospel had been brought to them by Epaphras (v.7) who returned to Paul and told him of the love that was exhibited in them by the work of the Holy Spirit (v.8)
All of that explains why Paul now says, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.” The reason? What Paul had heard from Epaphras about them, the outworking of their having received the Gospel and of the work of the Spirit in them. As soon as Epaphras told Paul about them, Paul’s spirit soared in praise (assumed) and thanksgiving (stated). But Paul is also an apostle-pastor and he knows what the people in this church need, and that is what he goes on to speak about and which we will consider in the coming meditations.
We did consider the thankfulness aspect of Paul’s praying but it may be worth asking again, are we aware of our fellow believers in our area and do we have a sense of gratefulness and thankfulness for them? It is so easy to become isolated in my little church in our little corner and forget that we are part of the universal church where, although they do it so differently perhaps from us, the believers are nevertheless our brothers and sisters.
I have observed over the years that it is so easy to feel superior about what is happening in our church, where God is blessing, and assume that it is not so elsewhere. Such an attitude is accompanied by a lack of thankfulness for others. The fact that others worship in different ways to us and may be doing more/less to share the Gospel than us, means that sometimes we feel different from ‘them’ and so we have negative feelings about other churches who we may either look down on or feel threatened by. Thankfulness is something to be worked on. I sometimes wonder if we ought to shut down our own building once in every two months and send our people to go and experience life with other believers elsewhere in our area. A challenge, a threat or an opportunity for blessing?
But we’ve noted that we are going to go on and see specific things Paul is going to pray for these people at Colosse and we may summarise it as praying for their blessing. We will go on to see a variety of things he wants for them but they are summarised as things that will build and bless them (and lots more! Exciting verses to come!) But this raises another question: are we passive about how we view our fellow believers? What I mean by that is are we happy to just observe them as they are, and happy that they stay as they are, or do we have a sense of the so many more things God wants to bring into our lives and the lives of those around us in the believing community?
In many churches we are just content to let the preacher bring his little message (which may be informative) each Sunday, but the thought of moving on, growing up, maturing, experiencing new gifting, moving into new areas of service and ministry etc., are alien to us. We are comfortable in our Sunday services, our prayer meeting and maybe even our Bible Study, but the thought of change and growth is both challenging and threatening and, for some of us, uncomfortable. Very often we lack vision of what could be and our faith level is sufficiently low as to be completely non-expectant – nothing is going to change today, tomorrow or next month.
But this non-expectant, passive, almost inert spiritual life is quite different from that found in the New Testament. Indeed it is alien to the things Paul is going to say in the verses that follow and so in order to appreciate them fully, we need to challenge ourselves now, before we get to them, are we willing to have our faith stretched to reach out and appropriate so much more than we might have at the moment? These following verses are absolutely dynamic and the potential, if we will open our hearts to the Lord, is for our faith to be expanded greatly and our Christian experience deepened immeasurably. Because Paul is an apostle with a pastoral heart, he knows what is on his heart for these people he has never seen before, simply because they are new Christians and he doesn’t want them to stand still. They are part of the army of God, the servants of God called to change the world, but before that can happen, various other things need to come into place first, and it is these things that he now goes in to pray for.
Are we ready?