Boosting Your Prayer Life
To go'against the tide' we need a solid foundation of prayer.
Study no. 9
Continue in prayer (KJV), Continue earnestly in prayer (NKJV), Devote yourselves to prayer (NIV)
Do you like praying? Are your prayers effective? Does praying really change anything? Does prayer touch and/or change the heart of God? Through prayer can we expect God to do something that He might not of done, had we not prayed? Do you sometimes feel that 'Whatever will be, will be', God has mapped out the entire future of every man and woman on earth and nothing will change that? Do you think someone just dies 'when their number is up'? So what's the use of praying?
Is prayer … fun ...or is it hard work?
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Col 4:12
My understanding of this verse is that getting enjoyment, or fulfillment or anything else out of praying is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with it. You see, prayer is not FOR us. Epaphras 'wrestled' or 'laboured' in prayer … not because it anything to do with him. It was all about a perceived need … these people need to grow to full maturity … and for this he would not stop praying. Prayer is about a need … that we know God could meet and whether it is work or enjoyment to pray … we do it because we believe it makes a difference.
Prayer vs supplication
In the original Greek New Testament there is a word which we translate as 'prayer'.προσευχη. This is a specific word that means prayer to God … only. It would never, for example, be used as in the English sentence: “Dear sir, I pray thee, give me a drink of water.” This bible word was only used with reference to speaking to God.
Before we move on I want to introduce a couple of parallel verses:
Eph 6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—--
Php 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
What is supplication? Or perhaps I should ask, what is a prayer of faith?
James tells us what a prayer of faith is:
1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
This is an example of praying within the 'known' will of God.
- It is the will of God to give wisdom to His children.
- He gives it when they need it, they know God will give it and they ask for it.
When you know the thing for which you are asking is clearly God's will, you can pray believing it will be done.
Supplication is different. Supplication is more like pleading or begging. It is requesting something with all earnestness, but it is not having the clear picture that this is what God also wants.
Note- both kinds of prayer should be on our lips and hearts at all times. The word 'thanksgiving' is attached to these verses as well. Let me point out an error and offer some clarification.
If I were to pray, 'God, I need wisdom to sort out this dilemma between my two friends. They have asked me for help. Thank you for the wisdom you will give me. Amen.'
That is a prayer of faith with thanksgiving.
If I were to pray, 'God, my neighbour is unsaved. I ask you to save him. I pray this in faith. (some might add, claiming the blood of Jesus … or pleading the blood of Jesus). Thank you for saving him! Amen.
That is not a prayer of faith with thanksgiving. That is a total misunderstanding and perversion of the verse that says, You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:14
There are some things for which you may try to ask that are not promises of God. You cannot include them in the list of 'asking anything in my name', simply by attaching Jesus' name to the end of the prayer. You can't make something to be in Jesus' name. It has to start out already being in Jesus' name before you ask. In the verse above Jesus said, if you ask anything in my name … what he saying is, if you ask me for anything that is within my will and purposes, I will do it.
When is comes to praying for the salvation of a person, … you cannot ask it in faith, nor can you beg for it in supplication, even adding thanksgiving … God has given to each person a free will that He does not violate. So how do we pray for the lost? We pray for every surrounding condition that we can think of. We pray for wisdom to make salvation clear, and for many other things … but in the end, God puts the responsibility on the individual to believe. Believing and repentance is a general command to the world. It is a responsibility that is on the shoulders of every living person.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30
So a foundation of prayer is essential to our standing against the tide. But we are not standing against the tide … we are moving against the tide.
This familiar verse gives us the picture of going against, attacking, storming a gate. It is the gate of hell. That means on the other side is the kingdom of darkness. Don't think of gloom and demons. On the other side of that gate is every unsaved person you know and those you don't know. There are only two kingdoms … the kingdom of light, into which you were 'moved' or 'translated' the very second you trusted Jesus to save your soul … and the other kingdom is the kingdom which you were just 'ripped' out of by the Spirit of God when you got saved. This is the kingdom of those who reject Jesus, who neglect Jesus, or who feel no need for Jesus.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Mt 16:18
We are moving against those gates. Here a quote from a devotional book I have:
“In every city there are places where the presence of Christ is desperately needed. In our schools are thousands of students who need to hear about the God who loves them and has big plans for their life. In all kinds of homes in all kinds of neighborhoods are families who need to hear about the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Business professionals need to hear that Christ can fill their life with meaning. In the bars and clubs are people who need to know how Jesus can fill the emptiness that haunts them. People whose lives have been wrecked by sin need to know that God can put things back together for them. Those who are overcome with despair need to know there is hope in Christ. Thousands of people need to know there is a God who loves them so much he sent his only Son into the world to save them. And to communicate this message to the world, we must do more than open our doors once or twice a week. We need to go into the community and take the life-changing message of Jesus Christ with us.”
Paul was asking prayer for himself … Col 4:3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Are you praying for open doors (opportunities) to proclaim the gospel clearly as you should? Will you ask other believers to join you in prayer for an open door for you to proclaim the gospel clearly?
Col 4:5 ¶ Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Notice in the above verses this assumption … Christians are to be aggressively moving against the tide.
It assumes you will be having relationships with outsiders.
It assumes you have prayed for and got opportunities.
It assumes you will be having conversations.
It assumes you will be answering questions.
These verses make note of:
- the need for wisdom. Wisdom to 'make the most' of an opportunity.
- The need for love so that your speech will be 'nice' and tasty.
- The need of sensitivity to differences between the various kinds of people you might be talking with. … how to answer EVERY one.
Here is what we must do while we are waiting for the door to open. Spend time with Christ, in His word and in your mind go through scenarios of talking with the person on 'the other side of that door'.
1Pe 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
This book of Colossians has touched on almost every area of our Christian lives and our walk with God. It has shown us that … to really be 'christian' in all of these areas it will mean an uphill, against the tide movement. Sometimes … maybe often, it will mean even pushing against all the 'norms' that other Christians think are just fine. This is wonderful little manual to keep at our side. We have everything we need right here.
Col 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,
7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
The final verses to the end of the chapter contain Paul's personal closing. This closing includes names, places and itineraries that were in works at the time of the writing. Reading the verses reveals Paul's heart for people and ministry. We can learn to be this way too, by just reading and realizing how normal this is supposed to be in our Christian walk.
Col 4:7 ¶ Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord.
8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.
9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow-prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.
12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord."
18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.