The Perfect Prayer

I have set the Lord continually before me.

–Psalm 16:8

How would you finish that sentence for your child or grandchild–or any other loved one in your life? Growing up, I never had any doubt about what my parents wanted most for me. In their bedroom, underneath pictures of me and my siblings, was this verse: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4). From an early age, I knew that what my parents wanted most for me was that I live in obedience to God. Paul expressed that same thought about his spiritual children, the Christians in Colossae.

In Colossians 1:9, Paul wrote, “Since the day we heard of [your faith], we have not ceased to pray for you.” These words are similar to what he said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” To Paul, prayer was not a ritualistic duty to squeeze into an overcrowded schedule; prayer was a way of existing. It was a continuous conversation with God. Thomas Kelly wrote, “There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings.”

To keep a continuous conversation with God, you must always have a consciousness of God’s presence. When you meet somebody, you ask, God, how do You want me to minister to this person? When you face temptation, you say, God, give me the power to say no to this. When you’re going through a difficult circumstance, you pray, God, give me the supernatural strength to get through this. That’s what it means to pray without ceasing. When Paul wrote, “We have not ceased to pray for you,” he was saying, “Every time you come to mind–which happens often–I pray for you.” And then he told the Colossians specifically what he was praying for.

There’s great wisdom in that. Anytime we tell somebody we’re praying for them, we ought to tell them exactly how we’re praying for them: “I’m praying that you have the courage to stand alone in this situation,” or, “I’m praying that you would be encouraged today.” That’s what Paul did. This week, we’re going to discover the three things Paul prayed for the Colossian Christians–and what we ought to desire and pray for our children, our mates, and even ourselves.

***

Today’s devotion is adapted from “The Perfect Prayer” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Thomas R. Kelly, “The Light Within,” in A Testament of Devotion (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), 9.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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