When Leaders Pray, Week One
by Tom Goodman
May 1, 2008
Since today is the National Day of Prayer, my thoughts turn to the kind of prayer life a leader ought to have.
When I was a new pastor, I decided to model my prayers after all the prayers the Apostle Paul expressed for his people in his letters. I wrote them out on 3x5 cards, memorized them, and lifted the words up to God on behalf of my
congregation. I want to return to that practice across the next few weeks by explaining those biblical prayers in LeaderLines. We'll begin with Colossians 1:9-12...
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, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Imagine what blessing would flow in response to Hillcrest's leaders lifting up that prayer on behalf of our church!
Now, Paul asked only one thing in this lengthy prayer. His single request is found in verse 9: He wanted God to fill the Colossians with knowledge of the divine will. The rest of this text, verses 10-14,
stated the end result of that one prayer.
This text gives you the words you need as you lift up other people: Pray that every person who is connected with this church will know God's will. Most of the time when we pray it's to express our will to God. We talk to him about what we want. There's a place to express our will to God, of course, but we also need to ask that God reveal his will to us.
Now, as each member discerns God's will, something very practical will start happening: Each member will start living "a life worthy of the Lord, pleasing him in every way." That was what Paul said in verse 10. As we pray for our church to have
a greater understanding of God's will, things start to happen to our people. More and more we start to live up to the expectations Christ has for us.
Paul calls it "a life worthy of the Lord," and Paul describes a life worthy of Jesus in four parallel phrases:
- 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, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
First, as we pray for our church, more and more of us will be fruitful. Note that phrase in verse 10: "bearing fruit in every good work." How telling that the Bible so often speaks of good works as bearing fruit. We're like trees: We
reveal what kind of thing we are by the fruit that we bear. Apple trees bear apples; spiritual men bear the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Second, as we pray for our church, more and more of us will become intimate in our knowledge of God. At the end of verse 10, note that phrase: "growing in the knowledge of God." No matter how much we learn about Jesus, there's always more to
learn, deeper experiences to share, more profound truths to ponder. We can say with Paul in Romans 11: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out...! For
from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever!"
Third, as we pray for each other, people will become strong even in their hardships. In verse 11, note that phrase, "being strengthened." That verse goes on to say that life worthy of the name "Christian" is a life that is "being strengthened
with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience."
Finally, as we pray we'll see our church more deeply moved with gratitude for the salvation God has provided. Note that phrase in verse 12: "giving thanks to the Father." As you can see in the scripture, what Paul wants them to give thanks for
is that God has qualified them to share in the family inheritance. He goes on to say God has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his Son who forgives us. You pray for your church and you'll see a church that is even more
grateful for their salvation, even more amazed at grace, even more astonished at the wonderful cross.
So, pray for your church, like Paul prayed for the Colossian church. Richard Foster wrote, "People desperately need the ministry of prayer. Marriages are being shattered. Children are being destroyed. People are living in dark depression and misery. And we can make a difference if we will learn to pray. If we genuinely love people, we will desire for them far more than is within our power to give them, and that will lead us to prayer."
That last line is convicting: If we genuinely love the people known as Hillcrest Church, we will desire for them far more than is within our power to give them, and that will lead us to prayer. I hope you'll join me in following the example of
Paul in praying for your church in this manner.
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