Colossians & Philemonby Mike Raiter
Ilove to listen to godly people pray. Just as I learn from the wisdom of gifted preachers, I learn from the wisdom and experience of faithful, diligent “pray-ers”. Often I am rebuked for my small-minded and egocentric prayers. I need a bigger landscape to pray over. Paul gives me that landscape.
We have already seen the eternal issues that set Paul’s prayer agenda (Colossians 1:3–14). Paul now gives us the how and what of prayer.
How should we pray? Regularly. It is something we must be deeply committed to. A wise Christian sets regular times for prayer and keeps to them. Watchfully. We must be alert to the issues we should be praying about, especially salvation issues. Thankfully. Just count how many times Paul mentions being thankful in this letter (Colossians 1:3,12; 2:7; 3:15,16,17). The first words I utter when I pray are “Thank you”.
And what does Paul pray for? Yes, he asks for prayer for himself (and his co-workers like Epaphras), but it is personal prayer for the sake of others. He wants an open door, but not to his prison cell (although, I dare say, his friends were praying for that). Instead, it is for opportunities to preach the gospel (v. 3). And, of course, he also wants the doors of people’s hearts to be opened. The message he longs to proclaim is the one the Colossians heard from Epaphras, and have been reminded of in this letter—it is the soaring truth that, from eternity, God has planned the salvation of Jews and Gentiles through his Son, the Lord Jesus. And Paul prays that he might “proclaim [this message] clearly, as [he] should” (v. 4). Paul desires his public proclamation to bring true knowledge and understanding of what Christ has done.
What do you pray for? We are to make all our requests known to God, both the small and great. But too often the “smaller issues” take much of the time, and we neglect the big issues that are on God’s heart. Let us be big “pray-ers” who pray, like Paul, big prayers.
What have you learnt about prayer from others? What changes could you make in your life so that you are praying more regularly, watchfully, and thankfully?
To what extent do issues of eternity drive the content of your prayers? What kind of balance do you think there should be in your prayers between the earthly and spiritual, temporal and eternal?