Congrats! You’ve finished another book of the Bible! Let’s head to Malachi next. Four chapters. Four days.
One of my favorite quotes by E.M Bounds has to do with prayer. He says, “With faith you can move mountains. With prayer you can move God.”
If’ you’ve ever been to a typical Sunday School class or prayer meeting our prayer requests often sound like an organ recital. “God bless my aunt. She has an itchy liver. Please heal my best friends cousin’s college roommate. He’s in the hospital. They’re removing his appendix.” These are important prayers. They represent needs that are easy to identify and are certainly circumstances worthy of our attention. We should bring these concerns before God and trust him with the answer.
But I wonder how purposeful our prayers really are. How often do we go beyond the adult equivalent of, “God bless mommy, God bless daddy”? Check out Colossians 4:2-4:
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”
Paul is in prison. It’s not the content of his prayers that surprises me, but what’s missing. Let me reiterate. He’s in prison. Never once does he say, “Pray for my defense attorney. Pray that the courts will be lenient. Pray that I’ll get out soon. Pray that the judge would be kind. Pray that God would protect me from the cruelty of the guards. Pray that God would protect me from the other prisoners.”
I find that remarkable. Paul is in prison writing a letter. When he asks for prayer what does he say? “Pray that God would give me many opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that when I share I would speak the message clearly.”
The prayers we pray reveal the concerns of our heart. For Paul, he was more concerned with the salvation of others than he was his own freedom, comfort or pleasure. He was more concerned over their relationship with Christ than with their temporary physical problems. He prayed with an eternal purpose in mind. He prayed prayers that moved God and he invited others to join him.
What will you pray today?
Thank you for the example and choices of Paul. I pray that you would give me the opportunity and the boldness to share the gospel. I pray that when I share I would be clear and that you would convict people of their need to place their faith in you. I pray that I would have the privilege of seeing someone come to faith in Jesus. I want my heart to be your heart. Help me to pay attention to what I pray. Help me to see the ways my prayers reflect what’s really in my heart. Teach me to pray prayers that move you, God, and let others join me.
I love you, in Jesus name -