Jonathan's Perspective  

Jan 9

'St. Paul's Model of Prayer'

St. Paul's prayer in Colossians 1 gives us a great model for effectively interceding for one another.

First, give thanks for the person for whom you are praying. Too often we pray for God to change the other person to suit our own will or to get on our agenda.  Paul wrote, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you..." (Col 1:3)  When we start our intercessory prayers with thankfulness, it causes us to focus on and value the other person's gifts, talents, and personality.  It puts us in the frame of mind as the person's cheerleader who will pray for the person to live out God's unique character placed within him or her.

Second, pray for the person to be willed with truth and grace.  Paul affirmed that the Colossians, "truly understood God's grace." (Col 1:6)  Just as Jesus came to us "full of truth and grace" (John 1:14), so should we pray for these qualities to be exhibited in the life of the person.  We all need grace to be forgiven and to forgive.  We need grace to live by God's power.  We also need truth, God's Truth, to guide us.  We need to know both God's life-giving trajectory for our lives, as well as, God's parameters that would keep us away from self-destructive behaviors and attitudes.

Third, pray for knowledge, understanding and wisdom.  "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)  Each person is entrusted with their own mission on this earth.  No one else can do it for them.  They must make the decisions and enact God's will in their particular situations.  I find it helpful that we are NOT encouraged to pray for a particular outcome, but to pray for that person to have the knowledge and understanding to make the right decision, and the wisdom to know how and when to do it. 

Finally, we must pray for the long haul.  Paul prayed for the Colossians "so that [they] 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." (Col 1:10-11)  As Methodist, we believe that God is constantly at work to make us more and more conformed to the image of Christ.  This does not happen in a moment, nor does it only happen through our successes.  We often learn from failure, and grow through facing difficult situations. 

The good news is that God uses all things to work together for the good of those who love him.  Therefore, we should pray for the character that is being formed as well as the situation at hand.

Pray for me as I am praying for you.

Seeking life that is truly life,

Jonathan

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