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Praying For One Another, Part 2

Read Colossians 1:9-14

A very common question from followers of Jesus is “What is the will of God for my life?”  This issue arises when we are faced with choices, like what college to attend, which of two jobs to take, or whether to go to the next level in a dating relationship with Sam or Peter.  We also ask it when we approach a difficult situation, such as whether to stay in a hard job or retire, how to deal with an aging parent or a “challenging” teenager, or how to handle a health crisis.  Then there is the daily concern that God would guide our steps so that we would walk in his will and not fall into an activity or behavior that is out of his will.  “What is the will of God for my life?”  Every believer wants to know the answer to that question.

But I would suggest that in the context of praying for one another over the long haul, this is the wrong question.  Certainly it is appropriate to pray for one another to know the will of God in every circumstance they face, but I would suggest that this is not practical, maybe not even appropriate.  I face dozens of situations that are too personal to discuss, even with my closest confidants.  Yet, I sill desire that people pray for me. The right question is this.  “What is the will of God?” I hope you see the difference.  Asking about the will of God for our lives enters the arena of personal and specific details.  Certainly, God is concerned about every detail of our lives, including the number of hairs on our heads.  But to keep abreast with everyone on our prayer list with this degree of specifics is overwhelming.  Therefore, I would suggest that there is a better way to pray for one another over the long haul, and Paul tells us in this passage.

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, (Col 1:9 NIV)

Here we have it.  Paul prays that the Colossians, a people he has never met, will be filled with the knowledge of the will of God.  Then he explains his understanding of what that means.  Paul prays for his readers to be filled with the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.  He doesn’t have to know any of the specific or personal details, yet his prayer is profoundly personal.  I can pray for you, and partner with you as you trust God for all the intimate details of your life, without knowing any of the specifics.  I can pray that the Spirit will give you wisdom and understanding in all of your circumstances, and I can ask you to pray the same way for me.

Now this may seem quite general and even impersonal.  However, as we will see in a following post, it is quite personal and it nurtures a significant relationship with one another.  Stay tuned.

Praying For One Another, Part 1

Read Colossians 1:9-14

I am slowly learning how to live in the age of technology, doing more and more with computers and the internet. But I am still quite protective of my personal handwritten prayer list that is in the back of my leather three ring date book. Until I get a smart phone or an iPad or some other such electronic tool, when I do my times of personal Bible reading, reflection and prayer, I will refer to three pages of prayer requests and names that I have categorized according to family, friends, and ministry partners. I don’t put every prayer request on my list. Often when I hear of a prayer need via an e-mail I will write out a prayer and send it right on to the one who asked for prayer. Other times I will pray over the phone or bow in prayer personally with the person I am with. But these issues don’t get put on my list. The items that make it to my prayer list are the ones that I perceive will be long term prayer concerns – a pastoral colleague facing a challenge in his ministry, the ministry of a friend who just got elected an elder, a former elder from Harvest who is now leading another ministry, a friend who is beginning a new career, a family who is struggling with a wayward teenager, a marriage that is in trouble, a surgery that requires extended recovery, or my children and their educational and spiritual journeys. These are prayer issues that are long term and don’t necessarily have a “quick fix.” From time to time I revise and update this list, but for the most part, unless I make additions, my list will remain for many months, maybe even years. Now to be honest, sometimes this gets laborious and it is challenging to stay encouraged in these prayers. I even have to admit that I get to the point when I really don’t what to pray for them. That is when the words of the Apostle Paul speak to my heart.

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. (Col 1:9-12 NIV)

This passage gives us a model of how to pray for our Christian friends and loved ones. In my next blogs, I will unpack this profound prayer and attempt to help us learn how to pray the concepts and principles found in this prayer for one another. But for today, simply pray Paul’s prayer for the people on your prayer list, and make a commitment to pray for them over the long haul.

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