Praying with Paul

Here is a post from Adam Phillips who will be starting as our pastoral apprentice in the fall.

For many of us, just thinking about prayer can be like gearing up for an awkward, dreaded phone call. Maybe you have to ask your friend for a huge favor. Or maybe you need to apologize for something. Or maybe you’ve been out of touch for a long time and know that making conversation will be like pulling teeth.

How often do we come to prayer and think to ourselves, “What will I say?” Or even better, “What can I say?” At times we wonder if God has time for our silly thoughts and requests. On the one hand, we know that prayer is part-and-parcel of the Christian life. The eternal God has pursued us in Jesus and has happily opened a 24/7 phone line with us. He never tires of hearing our prayers—just look at the Psalms. But on the other hand, prayer can be a really cumbersome thing for us.

The Scripture has a lot to show and tell us about prayer. All the different dimensions and aspects of prayer keep us learning for our entire lives! In the beginning of his letter to the Colossians, Paul makes a few comments about prayer that are encouraging for us as we cultivate a life of prayer.

1. God doesn’t grow tired of listening

Paul says “we have not ceased to pray for you” (Col 1:9). Paul is constantly in conversation with the Lord about the Colossians. Paul is saying his prayers for the Colossians literally have no end. If you’re a parent, there are days when you can’t handle the unceasing chatter from your child(ren). The Lord has no limit with Paul, nor with us. Of course, this is an encouragement for us to pray more than we do. But let it also be an encouragement that the Lord never tires of hearing your prayers, even if in your mind it just sounds like chatter.

2. Thanking

Paul also thanks God when he prays because “we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.” From a prison cell, Paul is marveling at the gospel fruit being born in Colossae. Paul’s thankfulness for this gospel fruit overflows into thanking God in prayer. Simply thanking God for who he is and what he has done, is doing, and will do—even the small things—is a perfectly acceptable prayer.

3. Asking

In his unceasing prayer, Paul asks the Lord to continue his work in the Colossians, that they would grow in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and walk in good works (Col 1:9-10). God is in the process of transforming each of us into Christ’s likeness. Requesting that God would continue his work in us and those around us is another aspect of prayer that fits the biblical mold.

Let us remember that in Jesus Christ we meet the Lord who hears the cries of his people (Psalm 34:17). If you’re struggling with prayer, start simple by praying with Paul, thanking God for what he has done and asking that he will continue his work.