“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.” (Colossians 1:3, 9)
To conclude the 30 Days of Prayer, I want us to have some interactive exploration of the Apostle Paul’s prayers in his letters to churches. Today, we begin with Colossians 1:3-13. Open your Bible and read through those verses. When you do, you will notice that Paul’s prayer has two basic parts. The first part (1:3-8) focuses on gratitude to God and the second part (1:9-14) focuses on requests asked of God.
Consider what Paul is thankful for in this first section of his prayer. He celebrates the faith and love of the believers. He is grateful that their faith and love overflows to bear fruit because of their hope in the Gospel. Any form of gratitude is good, and there are many things that we can be thankful for in our lives. However, Paul chooses specific sorts of things to thank God for in the life of believers. Those themes of gratitude reflect the essence of the Christian life and the fruit of the Spirit. This shows us that Paul is watching for certain things in the churches, and also that certain sorts of things lift Paul’s prayers toward thanksgiving.
Following his prayer for gratitude, Paul strings together a series requests of God on behalf of the Colossian believers. He asks God:
- that He will fill them with knowledge of his will (v 9)
- for wisdom and understanding from the Holy Spirit (v 9)
- that they might live a life worthy of the Lord (v 10)
- that the believers would bear fruit in good works (v 10)
- that they would grow in knowledge of God (v 10)
- for strength within God’s power for patient endurance (v 11)
- that they would find joy in the inheritance given by God through Christ (v 12)
Paul’s series of requests in prayer resound with a depth and focus that often does not characterize our prayers. His requests focus on the life of the believers becoming more God-centered and God-shaped in every way. Paul takes seriously the need for ongoing growth in the life of the believers, seeking that God would mature them even more deeply in Christ.
Focusing on gratitude without need can lead to unrealistic prayer that is out of touch with our lives. Focusing on our needs without gratitude can often lead to self-centered prayer that is out of touch with God’s power.
Take some time now to thank God for the fruit of the Spirit that you see in believers around you and in your church. Then, take some time to intercede before God in a way that is similar to Paul’s petitions on behalf of the Colossian believers. Perhaps you could write out a prayer to God in response to this devotional. You may even want to slowly pray the words of Paul’s prayer back to God to conclude your time in prayer today.