The Book of Colossians #3

 

The Book of Colossians
Colossians 1:9-14
 
We are in a brand new series of messages from the book of Colossians. Colossians is a very practical book in that it tells us how life works--what life is all about. The first 14 verses are the introductory verses. 
 
Next week, I’ll pick up at verse 15 and talk about Jesus, the One and Only. Life doesn’t work until you know Jesus, the One and Only.
      
Let’s look at this great prayer. These verses 9-14 tell us about how prayer works.
      
The National Opinion Research Center has found that the American people believe
in prayer. They found that 60% of American people say they pray on a daily basis. 78% of American people say they pray at least once a week. Only 1% say they never pray. 
 
So, America is a nation of people who believes in prayer. Researchers have even found that Atheists and agnostics pray. I find that rather interesting. I guess when an Atheist prays he has to address it ‘To Whom it may Concern.’ But most people do believe in prayer. 
There is a difference in saying prayers and praying prayers.
 
Before Paul came to know Jesus as Savior he was a very religious man. He was a Pharisee and as Pharisees did, he could be seen standing on a street corner saying, ‘I thank thee that I am not as other men are.’ He was constantly involved in saying prayers. 
 
But when he came to know Jesus on the Damascus road, the Lord said about this man Saul, ‘Behold he prays.’ Now instead of saying prayers he has started praying prayers and Paul becomes a great man of prayer. He prayed for other people. You will find long lists of people that Paul prayed for. He was constantly asking people to pray for him. He realized the importance of prayer and how much he needed in his ministry for people to pray for him.
      
In the letters of the New Testament which Paul has written we have some of the great high water marks of all of the Bible because we are given the recorded prayers of Paul. Some of the prayers that Paul prayed are given to us in the pages of our New Testament. Paul became a great man of prayer.
      
Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. Life really doesn’t work as it ought to work until you really know what prayer is all about and how to pray. There are no PhD’s in prayer. There are no authorities in prayer. There are no experts in prayer. All of us are enrolled in the Lord’s School of prayer, learning what prayer is all about. 
 
In these verses, this prayer of Paul, we learn a great deal about how prayer works. Let me give you a companion verse that helps to understand what we are looking at here in Colossians. Turn to I Timothy 2. There it gives us several facets of prayer, or several different kinds of prayer. I want to use these to work us through this prayer of Paul and learn how prayer works in our lives as Christians.
      
Verse 1 says, ‘I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.’
      
We are going to look at these three areas of prayer as they are given to us in Paul’s great prayer in Colossians. 
 
In verse 9 Paul says, ‘I do not cease to pray for you.’ T hat’s where the word intercession comes in.
I. INTERCESSION.
      
Intercession means to pray for someone else. Intercessory prayer is prayer prayed on the behalf of someone else. One of the greatest things you can ever do for anybody else is to pray for them. It’s one of the greatest forms of Christian activity in which you will ever engage. The impact of a prayer of one person on another person is unimaginable.
It is a powerful thing to pray for someone else. It thrills me when people tell me they are praying for me. The greatest thing you can ever do for me is pray for me.
 
Prayer is intercession. ‘Without ceasing I do not cease to pray for you.’
      
Notice he prays specifically. He is praying for some folks he had never seen. In chapter 2:1 he makes it very clear that they had never met before. He is praying for a group of people who had not seen his face and therefore he hadn’t seen their face. He didn’t know them on a personal basis and yet he is praying specifically for them. 
 
You may pray for missionaries you do not know. You may pray for people you have only heard by name. You’ve never met them.
We need to learn how to pray for people specifically. I want to encourage you to get a prayer list. On that list write down the names of people that you want to pray for. I’ll help you get your prayer list started. Put my name on your prayer list. Put staff members here in our church on your prayer list. 
 
Then, of course, you want every member of your family to be on your prayer list. Then, pray for neighbors. Pray for friends. Pray for the leaders of our country. Pray for lost people. Get specific in your prayer. Prayer, in general, is not likely to get answers in particular. You need to get specific in your prayers.
      
‘I do not cease to pray for you.’ That means he prayed continually. He prayed unceasingly. I’m glad to know Paul was a man who practiced what he preached. In I
Thessalonians 5:19 Paul says to us, ‘Pray without ceasing.’ Paul taught others to pray without ceasing. Now, he is practicing what he preached. He says, ‘I don’t cease to pray for you.’
      
What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Does that mean that you walk around with your head bowed all the time? 
Does it mean that you walk around with some kind of prayerful look on your face all the time? No, that’s not what it means.  
 
To pray without ceasing means you are in contact with the Lord. You may not be specifically talking to the Lord, but you are in contact with the Lord so that the most natural thing in the world for you to do is just talk to the Lord and just let the Lord talk to you. It’s like leaving the line open on the telephone.
 
We can be in an atmosphere of prayer. That simply means that beneath your conscious thoughts there should be the subconscious attitude of prayer so that at any moment, in any circumstance, it is natural for you to talk to the Lord in prayer. Pray when you get up in the morning. Pray as you go about the work of your day. Pray in traffic. 
 
Prayer is intercession. It is learning to pray specifically. It is learning to pray continuously. 
 
Prayer works by means of intercession. The second facet of prayer is –
 
 
 
II. SUPPLICATION.
      
‘And to desire.’ Desire really means there to ask. That’s another facet of how prayer works. Prayer is intercession-- praying for others. Prayer is also supplication. That is, asking God, desiring things of God. The Bible teaches us that we should ask God in prayer.
      
Look at Luke and see what Jesus said in chapter 11:9 and following
 
So, God encourages us to ask. Prayer is asking. You can ask God for some things.
      
Let’s just see what Paul asked for. Look at verse 9. We can ask God for a lot of things. We can ask God for our daily bread. We can ask God for guidance. We can ask God to help us in the problems and difficulties that we face. 
 
be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.’ Right here is the greatest thing you can ask God for on someone else’s behalf. The greatest thing anybody could pray for you and me is that you and I might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. God’s will is God’s plan and God’s purpose for you and me. God’s will is that which is best in our lives. God’s will should be the desire of every one of us. To know the will of God.
      
I can ask God to bless you in your job. I can ask God to provide the needs of your life. That all has a legitimate place. But the highest form of prayer is asking concerning
the will of God. 
 
Jesus, in the garden of Gesthesame, said, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’ Prayer is not so much trying to twist God’s arm to get him to conform to our will, as it is us asking Him to show us what His will is for us. That’s the epitome of prayer.
 
The will of God is what you and I would want for our lives if we had sense enough to want it. God knows best. He says, ‘I’m praying that you will be filled with the knowledge of his will.’ The word “fill” carries the idea of being controlled. 
 
That you might be controlled with the knowledge of his will. 
 
He is praying that we might be absolutely controlled and motivated by God’s will. That means that the will of God will dominate our thoughts.  It will delight our emotions. It will
direct our actions. What a wonderful prayer! That the will of God would be the driving,
motivating force of our lives. Do you pray that? Do you pray for God’s will to be known
in your life everyday? Do you ask God every day to let you know His will?
 
Knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. See those three things. 
Knowledge means precise and correct information. It means the acquisition of the
knowledge of God’s will. 
 
Where do you get the acquisition of God’s will? You get it in the scriptures. As you open up the Bible God shows you what he wants you to do. That’s why it’s so important to have a daily quiet time. Begin your day reading the Bible. Getting your directions. Finding out what God wants you to do. Acquisition of His will.
      
The word, wisdom, means apprehension of His will -- to understand His will.
      
Spiritual understanding means the application of His will to your daily life and
behavior. He is saying that we ought to ask God every day that we might be controlled by God’s will. ‘Knowing the will of God.’ 
 
 
Could I ask you a personal question? If God
should reveal His will very clearly and plainly to you right now, would you be instantly
willing to do it?
      
‘Wait a minute, preacher, I would like to check it out first and see what it is and then I’ll make that decision.’
      
No, it doesn’t work that way. In John 7:17 Jesus gives a very important guideline
in knowing God’s will. Jesus said, ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.’ He tells us if we will do His will, then we will know His will. Which comes first? Doing? or knowing? 
 
He says you have to be willing to do the will and then you can know it. A lot of people think God’s will is like a cafeteria. You just pick what you want from the food line. No, that’s not the way God’s will works.
      
Longsuffering means patience with people, being able to put up with people. Being able to deal with difficult circumstances and difficult people takes the power of God. But prayer is the channel that can bring the power of God in your life to make it in tough times--to deal with difficult people. 
So, prayer is intercession--praying for others. 
Prayer is supplication--asking God.
 
III. APPRECIATION.
      
Prayer is appreciation. ‘Giving thanks unto the father.’ Go through the book of Colossians sometimes. There are just four chapters. 
 
Find out how many times he talks about being thankful and thanksgiving. He’s already mentioned it back in verse 3 of chapter 1. ‘We give thanks to God the father.’ 
 
He mentions it again in the 2 chapter 7th
verse. ‘Abounding therein with thanksgiving.’ 
 
He mentions it in chapter 3. In verse 15
he says, ‘And be ye thankful.’ Verse 17, ‘Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in
the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks.’
      
Are you a thankful Christian?   Prayer is not only asking God for things He will do for us. Prayer is thanking God for things He has already done for us. Have you thanked God for anything lately? 
 
We need to learn to be thankful to the heavenly father. Paul says, ‘Giving thanks unto the father.’
      
We have so much to thank God for. God is so good. Have you thanked God for your life today? You could be dead, in eternity. Have you thanked God for your health? Have you thanked d God for your hands and fingers? Have you thanked God for your eyes? Have you thanked God for your hearing? Have you thanked God for your sense of taste? Have you thanked God for your family? Have you thanked God for your church? Be thankful!
      
He lifts this to another level, also. In the verses that follow he lifts this level of thanksgiving into a high realm. 
 
We thank God for all these things I mentioned, but now he thanks God for three specific blessings. 
 
In verse 12 he says, ‘Give thanks to the father who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ 
 
He has qualified us. He has made us fit. He has made it possible for you I to be worthy of being a part of the inheritance of the saints in life. We aren’t worthy of heaven. 
But Jesus has made us worthy and He has a home prepared for us there.
      
In the Old Testament, every tribe had a place of inheritance. They had a piece of property that was their portion. They had an earthly inheritance.
 
The Bible says we have a heavenly inheritance. I Peter 1:4 says, ‘God has begotten us to an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you.’ Have you thanked God that he has qualified for your home in glory?
      
Look at the second thing in verse 13, ‘Who has delivered us from the power of darkness.’ 
 
That’s something to thank God for. The word, delivered, is a precious word. It means He has rescued us. It means He has drawn us to Himself. When I read that I get the idea of a little child who has wandered out into the highway. A truck is rushing down the street. The parent sees the danger of the child and just at the last moment the parent rushes out and rescues the child and draws that child unto itself and avoids tragedy. 
 
 
That’s what God has done for us. God has rescued us. God has delivered us. God has saved us from the power of darkness. That’s something to thank God for. Aren’t you thankful you aren’t going to hell? He’s delivered us from the power of darkness.
      
The third thing, ‘And has translated us into the kingdom of the son of his love.’ 
 
He has delivered us and now He has transferred us. In Bible days when a king would conquer a country he would take the people of that country and relocate them. He would move them somewhere else. 
 
Well, you and I have been moved. Not because we lost the war, we’ve been moved because we’re winners. We’ve been translated into the kingdom of his dear son, the son of his love.
 
How wonderful! How thankful we ought to be.
      
Verse 14 says ‘In Him we have redemption.’ 
 
He has paid the price by His blood. The forgiveness of sins. We have so much to be thankful and grateful to God for.
      
That’s how prayer works. 
 
Prayer is intercession--praying for others. 
 
Prayer is supplication--asking God to know His will. 
 
Prayer is appreciation--just being thankful to
God for everything He has done for us.
      
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