Friday, February 9, 2018

Colossians 1:9-14 Prayer of the Saints

Colossians 1:9-14 Prayer of the Saints

Colossians 1:9-14 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.

This passage shows us the vibrant nature of the prayers continually offered up by Paul and Timothy for the saints in Colossae. We gain much insight as to how we should pray. Our time this morning will be to mine this passage to see how we should pray. Ever been convicted by Scripture?
There should not be any argument that prayer should be a steady part of every Christian’s daily walk with the Lord. As with any part of our Christian life, we can easily be pulled away by apathy, laziness, distraction, distress, abundance, joy, and pretty much anything else that comes our way. It sometimes seems like we have as much trouble staying focused on the invisible God as did the Jewish people so long ago, when they demanded a human king just like the pagan nations had. Samuel was told by God that he, the prophet of Israel, was the one being rejected; He – their God – was being rejected, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods.

As we reflect on prayer in this passage of Scripture, I pray we will each be inclined to be more biblical and consistent in our prayer life – and not reject God as the Jewish nation did. We have been delivered from the power of darkness much like Israel had been delivered from Egypt. Let us learn from them and this apostle how to not follow in their steps, but follow after Christ!

We will look at 4 aspects of pray that this passage teaches on: Why we should pray, when we should pray, how we should pray, and who can pray. If these questions have never entered your mind, I hope in Christ you will consider them this day.
     Why pray (read verse 9)

Paul begins this paragraph with a phrase that calls our attention elsewhere – for this cause we pray for you. Where do we find Paul’s reason? If we look back to verses 4-6 we’ll see Paul & Timothy were prompted to pray because they were thankful for the work God was doing among the saints in that small, remote town. The gospel was bearing fruit and spreading throughout the region; the saints loved one another and had put their hope in heaven; their lives were grounded in the truth of God’s Word and the grace He gives to each of the redeemed.

One of the biggest reasons found in the Bible for the saints of God to pray is to give thanks to Him! In addition to the reasons found here, we find Jesus giving thanks to the Father when He multiplied the fish and loaves as He fed the masses; when He broke the bread and shared the cup of at the first Lord’s Supper. We see Anna, a servant in the temple when Jesus was brought for circumcision, giving thanks to God for the redemption that had come to Jerusalem. The one leper returned to Jesus, fell at His feet and gave thanks for his healing. During his shipwreck, Paul gave thanks to God for the food and gives thanks to God for the victory we have in Christ Jesus. He told the Ephesians that he always thanks God for them as he remembered them in his prayer. And Paul also tells us all food created by God is good and should not be rejected if received with thanksgiving.

Are we thankful people – even for the everyday things such as what we eat? Even for the eternal things like the salvation of one another?

2.      When to pray

It’s in verse 9 that we see when to pray for others – when we hear of the reason we ought to pray. How often do we tell people “I’ll pray for you”? And then we fail to pray for them. How much better, in many ways, to pray right then! When we are the most busy – it’s time to pray. When Jesus was mere hours away from being arrested, He withdrew to spend time in prayer with the Father. When danger lurks, we should pray so we do not enter into temptation – no waiting until we fall into it! Cornelius knew of God but knew he didn’t know God – and he spent time in prayer, seeking understanding. When Peter was in prison (Acts 12), those who loved him prayed for him. When a married couple is having difficulties, praying together is God’s way for them to be healed. And in Ephesians 6 Paul tells to pray all the time – for the spread of the gospel and for the church. James tells us to pray when we’re sick and to pray for those who are sick. And Peter instructs us (1 Peter 4:7) Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer.

Are we a praying people? I don’t know about you, but I need BIG improvement in this area. It would be good for us as a church to spend time together praying – not merely as a short time after Bible study. Maybe instead of Bible study. It’s always a good time for God’s people to draw near to Him in prayer.

3.      How to pray (verses 9b-12)

In our daily lives, what constitutes most of our prayers? Is it not things of our fleshly bodies – health, finances, families? What do we see here? I am sure that the saints in Colossae, as well as Paul and Timothy, had nagging problems with their health, finances, weight, and myriad other earthly aggravations. Yet we don’t see them praying or asking for prayer for those matters in this passage.

One thing that can help is pray properly is to recognize the nature of prayer. One author (Brian Hedges) observed, “prayer is the greatest, most exalted form of communication a human being can attempt. For prayer is communication with God. Communion with God. Speaking to God, the Creator of the universe, the Sustainer of worlds, the Lord of the ages. Prayer is speaking to this God—and being heard!”

We find in our passage prayers for wisdom and spiritual understanding; obedience (walk worthy); bearing fruit; and growing in knowledge of God. Woe unto those who think they can slide along without diligence, woe to those who think they’ve arrived, woe to all who think need no more wisdom from God!

But do we, who acknowledge our woeful inadequacies in each of these areas, plead with God through prayer to be ever conformed to and content with Him? Our prayers should primarily contain thanksgiving for the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin; praise to God for He alone is worthy of our praise as our Creator and sustainer and advocate; confession to Him as we realize how imperfectly we walk as He has called us; and requests that He have mercy on those who are perishing, strengthen the weak, grant us wisdom as we witness.

We are free to pray for physical things – for ourselves and others – once we take of first things. As we think of all the things that crowd our minds for attention, let us remember the instructions to fix our minds on heavenly things that we might be mindful of the first things we ought to pray for.
Lest we forget, the apostle also shows us here that our prayers ought to be filled with praise to God for Who He is – greatly to be praised. Not only in corporate praise, but in our personal time when we approach Him in prayer. Since we have so much to be thankful for, praise to Him Who provides is not merely just, but good for our souls. These prayers remind us of our dependence upon the Lord our God, as well as His faithfulness to provide for us.

4.      Who can pray? (verses 112b - 14)

Does the one who is rescued deserve credit for his rescue from sin and death? As Paul mentioned to the church in Rome, where then is the boasting? It is excluded! By what law – of works? No! By the law of faith! (Rom 3:27) In whom do we boast? Only in Christ Jesus! So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. (2 Cor 2:17) When we look in our passage at who can pray, we see it is those who have been qualified, rescued, transferred, and redeemed; all of these actions noted by Paul in these verses have God as the one taking them. We boast in the name of the Lord, our God! (Psalm 20:7) We will take a quick look at these 4 characteristics to see how they qualify us to pray to God rightly.
a.       Qualified. In verse 12 Paul gives thanks for the saints in Colossae whom the Father has qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. The KJV says we were made to be partakers in this inheritance. Formerly we walked in darkness, as do all the children of Adam. But having been made partakers in Christ Jesus, we now walk in the light as children of the most high God; heirs of His kingdom in the age to come. By calling us saints, God denotes we have been set apart and as such, we can approach Him with boldness – with the holiness He provides, without which none can approach Him. Only those qualified can pray to Creator God.

b.      Rescued. In verse 13, Paul starts off saying we have been rescued or delivered from the domain or authority and rule of darkness. When Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus, and the chief priests, temple police, and elders were upon Him, He asked them why they came with weapons and force, observing, “Every day while I was with you in the temple complex, you never laid a hand on Me. But this is your hour — and the dominion of darkness.” (Luke 22:53). Though he is bound from deceiving the nations for the time, Satan is the power behind those who wreak havoc and cry out against the light of the Word of God. People how have no shame, but demand full acceptance of their debauchery as normal. We have been rescued from that dominion, sin is no longer our master. Those who belong to the darkness do not have the ear of God, for He is not their father.

c.       Transferred. Still in verse 13 the apostle tells us where we’ve been delivered to. For God has not merely rescued us from the dominion of darkness, He has transferred or translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son that He loves! Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20) So many seem to miss this idea – God does not merely set us free from master sin; He delivers us to Master Grace! If we were only set free from sin, we would be as Adam and Eve – having to live perfectly to enjoy fellowship with our Creator. But, in truth, we are in far better shape than Adam and Eve – we have been made righteous in Christ. Not only free from master sin, but reconciled to Master Grace! This means we have access to our Father, our prayers are sweet aroma to Him. What a privilege!

d.      Redeemed. In the last verse in our passage, Paul tells us we have redemption in Him, Christ Jesus. This word redemption means to buy back something that has been sold or put away in a pawn shop. In our case, we were slaves in the sin market and God redeemed us from that kingdom, at the high cost of the death of His Son, bringing us into the kingdom of Light. This redemption in Christ brings us forgiveness, the act of God putting our sins away; put away as certainly as is the death of Jesus; so nobody can buy them back and hang them around our necks! Forgiveness of sins, redeemed: the highest act of love, God became man, lived under the Law, was tempted in every way yet sinned not, and drank the cup of God’s wrath due us. Because we are forgiven, we have standing before the throne of God.

Having seen all that has been done so we can approach God, having seen the glorious truths that we can thank Him for, being in awe at being found in Christ having His righteousness – we should be unable to keep quiet or be distracted from rightly praying. John Hedges summed it up:

Astronomers have discovered that some stars seen with a naked eye in the night sky are actually whole clusters of stars. What appears to be a single star is actually an entire system filled with burning orbs of light. That’s what this passage is like. The truth here is vast, containing more glory than we can fully grasp. No wonder Paul bursts into thanksgiving to God! And so should we.
When we truly begin to grasp the extraordinary power of the gospel of Christ that turns us into the new creation people of God characterized by faith, hope, and love—people who bear fruit in every good work, growing in our knowledge of God and strengthened by his power—how can we not give thanks? The saving power of God has rescued us from darkness through the new exodus accomplished by the redeeming death of his Son, our Lord Jesus. He has transferred us into the kingdom of light. He has given us a share in the inheritance of God’s holy people.
Let us rejoice as God’s holy people. Let us sing His praises and pray with joyful hearts for the glorious blessings He has given us – including each other. Henry Lyte helps us keep these things is proper perspective in his hymn:
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore his praises sing.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King!

Brian Hedge: “When we truly begin to grasp the extraordinary power of the gospel of Christ that turns us into the new creation people of God characterized by faith, hope, and love—people who bear fruit in every good work, growing in our knowledge of God and strengthened by his power—how can we not give thanks”, in prayer and praise?