When you pray for others, what do you pray? Let Colossians chapter 1 help guide your prayers. First, let’s see who sent this important letter to the church in Colossae.
Colossians 1:1-2 (HCSB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother: 2 To the saints in Christ at Colossae, who are faithful brothers. Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Paul, who by the will of God was sent out to start churches and teach people the way of following Christ, was in a tough spot. He had been placed in prison for proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the Roman Empire.
What did he do? He didn’t sulk or complain. He prayed. And he wrote letters to churches to tell people that he was praying for them.
His letters encouraged them and his prayers strengthened them, and through his praying and his writing he taught them how to follow Christ. We can learn a lot from him. Along with Timothy, Paul’s first words to the Christians in Colossae were grace and peace.
we always thank God when we pray for you
Colossians 1:3-8 (HCSB)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints 5 because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth. 7 You learned this from Epaphras, our dearly loved fellow slave. He is a faithful servant of the Messiah on your behalf, 8 and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.
Notice three things that Paul and Timothy thanked God for concerning the Colossian church family.
“we thank God for your faith in Christ Jesus” (v4)
Take a moment to thank God for the faith of some Christ-followers that you know. Maybe these are friends who live locally. Maybe they are people you have met across the nation or around the world. Pray for them. Thank God for their faith in Jesus Christ.
“we thank God for your love for the saints” (vv4,8)
Take a moment to thank God for the love you have seen displayed through other believers. Christlike love compels people to care for those in need, to help those who are hurting, to share encouraging words with those who are discouraged, and much more. Let their Christlike love inspire you to show love to others.
“we thank God for your hope reserved in heaven for you” (vv5-7)
When you know that your eternal home is heaven, you live life differently. You have confidence to endure any circumstance that life throws your way. You also believe that God can bring hope to others through Christ. The Colossian church had been started by Epaphras (v7). He had done a good job of teaching them to follow Christ. They had heard the truth of the gospel (v5) and had received God’s grace (v6). The gospel was bearing fruit as people all over the world were receiving God’s grace (v6). Paul and Timothy were thanking God for the hope that they heard about in the Christians in in Colossae. Their hope in Christ was contagious!
we haven’t stopped praying for you
Colossians 1:9-14 (HCSB)
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing ⌊to Him⌋, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. 14 We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.
“we pray that you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will” (v9)
As you pray for others, pray that they seek God’s will. As they seek His will, God will give them wisdom and spiritual understanding (v9). He will reveal His will to them as they study the Bible, listen to Him in prayer, carefully consider the meaning of circumstances of life, and hear Him speak through other believers. Pray that they be absolutely filled with knowing what God’s will is. Then, pray that they follow His will.
“we pray that you walk worthy of the LORD” (v10)
The goal of every believer is to walk in the way of Christ, to emulate Him in everything we think, say and do. The way we treat people, the way we do our work, the way we spend our time – the way we do everything! – should show the world that we are followers of Jesus. Our lives should bear spiritual fruit, pointing people toward Christ and impacting the lives of others the way Jesus did when He was on the earth. This is a life that is fully pleasing to Him (v10).
“we pray that you be strengthened by His power” (vv11-14)
Paul knew firsthand the importance of God’s power at work in his life, to endure difficult times and even spiritual persecution. He prayed that his friends in Colossae would know God’s mighty power at work in their own lives so that they could have endurance, patience and joy (v11). Paul knew that God had rescued them from the domain of darkness (v13) and brought them into the light of Christ (vv12-13). God had changed their lives! And the same power that had changed their lives would sustain them through the trials of life. Since Christ had paid the penalty for their sins and given them forgiveness, He would empower them to live a transformed life. We should pray the same for our friends.
your prayer response
Take a moment to look back over the statements that summarize how Paul was praying for his friends, the Colossians. Think of a few of your friends. Take time right now to pray for them, following Paul’s example. Then, send your friends a message via email, text or social networking, telling them that you just prayed for them. God will use you to make their day!