If you are like me then prayer is an area in which you often fall short, specifically, when it comes to praying for fellow believers. Many times we fail to pray for the needs of our brothers and sisters, and when we do pray for them we are not sure exactly how we should pray for them. This is a discipline that is not easy to maintain, but thankfully scripture provides us with help. In fact, as we look together at Colossians 1:9 we are going to see that the apostle Paul himself left us with a pattern of how we can pray for our fellow believers.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” (Colossians 1:9)
In Colossians 1:9 Paul communicated his love for the Colossian believers by revealing his person pattern of prayer on their behalf. As we examine Paul’s pattern of prayer we can learn a great about how we should pray for our fellow believers. Specifically, in this passage we see 3 Characteristics of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians:
I. Paul’s prayer was sustained.
II. Paul’s prayer was specific.
III. Paul’s prayer was spiritually oriented.
I. Paul’s prayer was sustained.
The first characteristic of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is that it was sustained. Paul tells the Colossians that “since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray.” The “we” here refers to Paul’s ministry team—probably including Timothy. The team was constantly praying for the needs in Colossae.
Paul’s pattern of prayer here seems almost impossible to attain. Don’t be intimidated by the phrase “we have not ceased.” Paul was not praying every second of very day for the Colossians. We know that he did other things. So, what does Paul mean? We know that neither he nor the Spirit inspiring him was lying. Paul could be referring to the same attitude as 1 Thessalonians 5:17:
pray without ceasing
However, since he had specific people and requests in mind it most likely means that every time he prayed for them this was his regular request. He often prayed for them, and every time he prayed he prayed for these same key matters.
The point in all of this is simply that Paul’s prayer for the Colossians believers was
He persistently prayed for the Colossians and their situation. He did not pray once and think his job was done. He loved his fellow believers too much not to be intimately involved in their lives through regular prayer. This is the pattern that has been left for us to follow.
We must be committed to persevering in our prayers for our fellow believers. In fact, we need to be committed to sustained prayers in every area of life. Why? Look at Luke 18:1–8:
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?””
God uses our prayers in ways we often don’t immediately see. We need to be sustained in our prayers constantly returning to the Throne of God with our care, concerns, and conflicts. As we have this attitude in prayer it will do two things. First, it will knit our hearts together with the people for whom we are praying. Paul’s sustained prayer for the Colossians certainly reveals his love for them, and it is a wonderful model for to follow in our own prayer lives. When we consistently pray for people it will only grow our love for them.
Secondly, sustained prayer reflects and develops trust in God. When we are committed to praying for an issue until it is resolved we will be developing a habit of looking to God in the midst of an issue. This is important because many times we only look to God when an issue arises, but then, if our prayer is not sustained, we can easily become discouraged when we fail to keep looking to God.
Paul’s prayer for his fellow believers was sustained. This is the model for us to follow.