Praying for the Church (Colossians)


Colossians 1:9-12 ESV And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (10) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (11) being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; (12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

We read a short family devotion after dinner when we eat together. Lately we’ve been reading through the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The other night we read the account of Anna seeing Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:36-38). There was a prayer prompt at the end of the devotional encouraging us to pray to be like Anna who was devoted to seeking after the Lord. I was leading our youngest to pray and so simply restated the prayer prompt for her to repeat after me. So I said, “Lord help us to be like Anna.” and my youngest who has a name that sounds very similar but is different repeated, “Lord, help everyone to be like me.” The other kids started smirking and couldn’t contain their laughter. It was a good fun, family moment over a simple mistake.

As I ponder back and chuckle, I wonder how often we are guilty of praying like that. We hear of someone’s situation and we wouldn’t want to go through what they are facing and so we ask the Lord to simply remove the obstacle, hurt or pain, because that is what we’d want. While I think we ought to pray on this level to some degree, after all we are encouraged to love our neighbor as ourselves, prayer is intended to also go deeper than that.

When Paul shares about how he prays for the Colossians, their health, wealth, and general prosperity don’t make the list. Instead the list of things he prays for these folks is filled with things like knowing God, knowing His will, living up to their calling as believers and fruit or evidence of God’s work in their lives. When he prays for them, he doesn’t ask for their own strength to rally in weakness, but that they would experience God’s power, perhaps because he knows what it is like for God’s grace to be sufficient in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). He prays that they might have endurance, patience, and joy. He thanks the Lord for them. Paul is always thanking God in his prayers.

Certainly there is room for us to pray behind Paul in this way for those we know and love. There are many in the wake of the pandemic who have real physical and spiritual needs. We might be tempted to pray just for health or the ability to attend church, etc. but what we also need to pray is along the lines of presenting everyone complete/mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28).

Father, thank you for your word that reveals how Paul prayed for the Colossians. My prayers are falling behind his today, as I pray in this way for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that we would all know you, know your will, endure the trials we face and experience joy even in the middle of turbulent times. Thank you for the grace you’ve lavished on us all. Work in us all a fully mature faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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