This Week's Focus Passage

‘For this cause we also, do not cease to pray and make request for you.’

Focus Passage: Colossians 1:9ff.

‘For this cause we also, do not cease to pray and make request for you.’

Paul begins his epistle to the church at Colossae with a salute to the people, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ. He salutes in the name of God when he says, Grace to you and peace from God the Father. This he follows with sincere thanksgiving for these folk, and especially for what God had done in them as well as through them, having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have toward all the saints. Speaking of the word of the truth of the gospel, he continues to give thanks and praise to God for the grace which is come unto you; even as it is also in the whole world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth. With his thanks and praise pronounced, he bows to pray for this people. He is able to say that because of what God has done in them and is doing through them that for this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you. What follows upon these things is perhaps one of the most, if not the most, instructive of prayers from the mind, heart, and pen of the great apostle to the Gentiles. It is very instructive, to say the least, in just what it implies for our prayers for the church, and others in the church of Jesus Christ. Well would it be if we all prayed this prayer for one another with some regularity, as well as sincerity. Without the sincerity, there is no worth to any regularity. We will only be imitating the Pharisaical meaningless repetitions. But if we could pray for the saints and faithful brethren in the churches around the world and in our country, and in our state and city; if we could pray for the saints and faithful brethren in our own local assembly, in the manner and matter employed here by Paul, what a blessing would reside upon the people of God.

The oft-repeated question intrudes itself to our minds at this moment; does prayer really change anything? When we cry unto God for the needs of His people, do we have reason to believe that we have the ability through our prayers to change the mind, or plan, of God in anything? Does prayer change anything? Yes, it does! Yet it does not change the design of God in anything whatever, for God’s plans have been from eternity; He changes not, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Is the apostle then giving us this example of prayer for nothing? I think not! He prays, making ceaseless requests for the church, first, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. He additionally prays for his readers that they may walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing and that they may, through such walking, bear fruit in every good work. In so doing these things, it is more than suggested that they may expect to be increasing in the knowledge of God, even as they are strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy. They are changed!

How ought the saint to be overflowing with gratitude for the many means of grace which God has showered upon the church; the body of His Son. These saints will be, it may be supposed, not forgetful, but giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. This prayer of Paul is a wonderful pattern for each one of us to be making use of in carefully praying for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We do pray over and again that our Lord would build His church; that He would be sanctifying each and every living stone in that building, and that it would most assuredly be built according to the plan of God, which is, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone. Here, imitating this exemplary prayer, we might seize the opportunity of prayer for every living stone—abstractly perhaps for those around the world whose names we know not—concretely for those with whom we are intimately related in a particular body of God’s professing people. This is a wonderfully double-blessed activity; double-blessed because we are, as Paul, asking blessing upon and for our brothers and sisters, and not only so, but receiving the blessing of anticipating that our brethren are beseeching our Lord for us as well. This is just one of the means of grace that has been provided through the merits of Christ for His elect in order to them growing in grace and in the knowledge of Himself. This is that which would conduce to the sanctification of the bride of Christ; i.e. the building of the church, even according to His own promise, I will build my church.

In imitation of Paul, who of course was guided by God Himself; God the Holy Spirit, may we make the attempt to approximate his requests to God. These foundational needs of the body of Christ are of so much more importance than many of the presumed needs of the people of God, uttered in multitudes of prayer meetings around the nation, that it would seem quite fair to say that we should not need to be reminded of them; they are so foundationally necessary for the building of the church in order that she might be equipped to do the work for which Christ has left His body on earth. How manifestly important it is that we be filled with the knowledge of the will of God in all spiritual wisdom and understanding? We trust that we have been made aware of the fact that we have not been left upon earth simply to picket and demonstrate over this and that political issue. We have not been left upon the earth in order to set in place in our country—or in any other country—a theocracy; no, not even a democracy. We have been left, as Jesus left us at His ascension, to be light and salt and leaven; we are to show forth Jesus, the Light of the World, by our example of striving to live according to the light of the Gospel, we are to be salty in retarding wickedness, by our example of a righteous living before our neighbors and acquaintances, we are to be leaven in having that leavening effect of retarding putrifaction among our families and friends; those among whom our gracious God has providentially placed us. Let us then pray for one another for the filling up of the knowledge of God’s will in each of us. Let us then pray that we all attain to greater spiritual wisdom and understanding that we might walk according to His revealed will and thus please Him with whom we have to do. And for enablement, may we all be strengthened with all power, physical, mental, and especially spiritual power.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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