Encouragement To Pray

Colossians 4:2-6

2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Introduction

What is the highest or the most noble use of the tongue? Dr. Warren Wiersbe says the two most noble uses of the tongue is in prayer and praise. I given a lot of thought to what he said and I cannot argue with him. Even though the truth of this statement resonates in my mind and soul, I need encouragement to do both. Prayer is easier for me when I have someone to pray with and so is praise. In the text today, Paul is encouraging the Colossians to pray. Let’s look at what he says…

I. We are to Devote ourselves to prayer. The word devote means :[1] to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to one, [2] to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing, [3] to continue all the time in a place, [4]to persevere and not to faint, [5]to show one’s self courageous for one, [6] to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly. It’s like going into a sit down restaurant and a waitress comes to your table or an ocean cruise where you go to the fancy dinning hall for dinner: you have a waiter or waitress devoted to your table. Their focus is on you, no one else. When we pray, we are to be focused like a laser. A laser is powerful; it can cut through steel and all it is focused light, concentrated light.

II. Secondly, we are to Prayer with an alert mind. A part of being “devoted” to prayer is to be alert or watchful. The word Paul uses here means to watch, to give strict attention to. It would be like a Sentry posted to guard a wall. If you are like me, you probably struggle in this area. It is hard to stay alert in prayer. We have a lot of forces working against us and this makes alertness a real effort. The flesh doesn’t want to pray. The devil doesn’t want you to pray and the world will hinder or distract you from prayer. If you are to ever master the art of prayer, you must have a quiet place, away from the distractions of the world. You cannot maintain alertness of mind in the midst of distractions. So, number one, get rid of distractions: TV’s, Radio’s, noise, traffic, etc. This is a starting place but it will not take care of all the problems: what happens when you get in a quiet place and get relaxed? You get sleepy or you mind begins to wonder. I am not expert but I can tell you things that help me with this problem. [1] Get a pen and paper and write your prayers down. This is good for two reasons, you have to focus and stay alert to write and you have a record of your prayers. It is a blessing to go back and read prayers that I prayed 25-30 years ago. I am always amazed at how many prayers God has answered over time and I was not even aware that He had answered them until I read these old prayers. Some Baptist act like it is a sin to write a prayer but it is no sin. George Washington, the most indispensable man in American history had a prayer book. [2] Get in a place where you can talk out loud without fear of someone other than Jesus hearing you. The devil has no power over the spoken word. When you speak your prayers aloud, it is like scratching on the blackboard to Satan, it drives him away.

III. We are to pray with thanksgiving. This is a continual theme with Paul; one that he repeats more than any other. Oswald Chambers believed that prayer was a kin to begging. It the old days a beggar did not ask for specific things but simply begged for help and would take what ever you were willing to give. The true beggar puts himself at the donor’s mercy. Our problem, according to Chambers, is that we have imagined a specific or desired result and God answers our prayer in such a mysterious way that we don’t recognize that He has answered it at all. Therefore give thanks for His wisdom and mercy: He will answer the prayer but it may come in a form that we are not expecting. Israel prayed for a Messiah: God answered their prayer but not in the way they had imagined and they failed to recognize the answer when He stood right in front of them. Prayer may not seem that powerful to most but devoted prayer is very powerful.  Last, Paul exhorts us to keep on praying. William Barclay said, “Even in the best of us, there comes a time when prayer seems unavailing and when I prayers don’t seem to be getting any higher than the ceiling. As such times the remedy is not to stop praying, but to go on praying; for in the man who prays spiritual dryness cannot last.” 

IV. We are to pray for God’s servants: Paul didn’t make any bones about it, he said, “Pray for us.” I am a prayer glutton, a prayer hog. I’m not saying this is a good thing, I am just stating facts. Several years ago, my wife got word that a certain ladies prayer group were praying for our marriage and she got ticked. I just laughed. These girls were wearing the halo too tight and they were more than a bit self-righteous but I was not offended and I knew we needed the prayer. About three years ago a vicious rumor got started about our church in general and myself in particular. It all began with a woman getting upset because we had prayed for her husband in a deacon meeting and one of the deacons went and told her. I do have to admit that I don’t understand why people get upset when they find out some group is praying for them. Paul would not have gotten upset. Perhaps you feel that the group doing the praying has problems of their own or is self-righteous or hypocritical. I don’t care: I’ll take prayer from anyone anytime. If you want to pray that I will become a better preacher or witness; help yourself, it cannot hurt. God’s servants need prayer just as a fish needs water. Paul even gives us some specific things to pray for:

  1. Pray that God will give us many opportunities to speak about His mysterious plan concerning Christ.
  2. Pray that I proclaim the message clearly as I should.
  3. Pray that you make the most of every opportunity
  4. Pray that your conversation be gracious and attractive: that you draw rather than repel.
  5. Pray that you have the right response when you get the opportunity to confront another person
  6. Remember those in chains. Somehow, we American have convinced ourselves that persecution is a thing of the past but it is not. We need to remember those in prison like Paul for sharing the word, that the message of the gospel be proclaimed clearly. I still keep up to a degree what is going on with the VOICE OF THE MARTYRS.  Saeed Abedini, a 33-year-old Pastor, father, and husband from Idaho, is currently imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. On 28 July 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained Saeed, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith. After intense interrogations, Saeed was placed under house arrest and told to wait for a court summons. On 26 September 2012, instead of receiving a summons telling him where to appear, five members of the Revolutionary Guard raided Saeed’s parents’ home in Tehran, confiscated many of Saeed’s belongings, and took him to an unknown location. After four days the Revolutionary Guard informed the family that Saeed was in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison. During solitary confinement, Saeed was only brought out of his small, dark cell to be subjected to abusive interrogations. Saeed had been denied medical treatment for infections that resulted from beatings. The ward doctor and nurse refused to treat him because, as a Christian, he was considered “unclean” and an infidel. Saeed’s family in Tehran may visit Saeed on Mondays, but he is not permitted to make phone calls, cutting him off from his wife and two young children in the U.S. In late February it became known that Saeed was suffering from internal bleeding, an injury from beatings he endured during interrogations. Doctors examined Saeed in early March and determined that his injuries warranted immediate attention, and, in their medical opinion, he needed to be treated in a non-prison hospital. For a month, the Iranian regime ignored this advice. In an attempt to appease international pressure, on 8 April 2013, the Saeed was taken to a private hospital. Before doing so, guards forced Saeed to change his prison uniform to that of a murderer. Saeed resisted, the guards beat him, and forced him to wear the uniform. When Saeed arrived at the hospital he was never admitted or treated because, according to the guards, the doctor on staff was not present. Saeed has reported that several cellmates, who appear to be connected to the Iranian intelligence police, have threatened to suffocate Saeed while he sleeps. So here is a servant that is suffering and we are to pray for him. I can promise you, Saeed will not be offended by the news that you or your group is praying for him. Prayer is a form of remembering: Saeed knows this and so do our Missionaries. It is not rocket science: if you prayed for me, I had to come to mind which means I was remembered.

 

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