Higher Ground: Thoughtful prayer

  • Higher Ground: Thoughtful prayer

Many of us struggle to pray thoughtfully and with fervency.

Sometimes we feel we don’t know the right words to use, or feel inadequate in expressing ourselves. So our prayers become more of a ritual, like listening to the National Anthem before a sporting event.

The apostle Paul, when writing to churches while he was in prison, often expressed his heart’s desire in the form of prayers. One of my favorites is found in Col. 1:9-12a. It reads as follows:” For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father.”

Maybe this is more of a description of his prayer rather than the prayer itself, nonetheless it pictures clearly what Paul thought was primary. So we can assume that as he thought of that young church, struggling in the midst of paganism, he put forth what he thought was most important — what he felt God wanted to see happen in their hearts and lives. Let us look at some of the areas with which he was most concerned.

First of all, he prayed they might know God’s purpose or will. This would come through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It was spiritual wisdom and understanding they needed. This, in turn, would result in a life that was worthy of the powerful God they served and would be pleasing to Him.

Out of that would come fruit through their good works, and they would grow in their knowledge of God. In this manner they would be strengthened with power. He was not thinking of power to run over others or arrogant power, but effectiveness as opposed to meaningless labor. This power was to come from God, not the wisdom of human effort. This power would bring patience and endurance.

They were facing hostile attacks from those who would diminish the sufficiency of Christ so Paul knew they would need to endure and be patient, not giving in to pressure. Finally, they were to joyfully give thanks to the Father. There is no joy quite like the joy of obedience.

Do you see any connection between Paul’s concern for the churches and our prayer concerns of today? Certainly, we all would like to know the mind and heart of God in our daily pilgrimage. We would like to know our efforts and plans would be pleasing to God. Do we not desire fruitful labor which would lead to knowing God more intimately?

Is our heart cry that our children would lead lives which count, which make a difference? Then pray that they would be strengthened with God’s mighty power. And we would all desire greater patience and endurance during these hectic days. Meditate on this prayer of Paul and his prayers for other churches in Ephesians and Philippians. You prayer life will become more fulfilling and exciting.

To comment: jhn82@outlook.com or (580) 302-1142.