Praying on Purpose: Prayers that Move God

Congrats! You’ve finished another book of the Bible! Let’s head to Malachi next. Four chapters. Four days.

Colossians 4

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?


Heavenly Father,

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 –


Thoughts: How To Change Your Mind

ThoughtsColossians 3

What’s on your mind? What do you dwell on or obsess over? What thoughts distract you from doing what you know you should do? What, when and how do you think about God? What do you think about others? What do you believe about yourself? What are thinking about right now?

Every choice you make is a reflection of how you think.

There’s a simple pattern:

  • The words we know determine the thoughts we think.
  • The thoughts we think influence the attitudes of our heart.
  • The attitudes of our heart affect the choices we make.
  • The choices we make define the character we develop.
  • The content of our character becomes the legacy we leave behind.

If you want a better legacy, develop better character. If you want stronger character, make better choices. If you want to make better choices improve your attitude. If you want a better attitude renew your mind. Think better thoughts. If you want to think more clearly, if you want to have better thoughts, find better words.

This is more significant than the power of positive thinking. It’s not pie-in-the-sky, Pollyanna, ignore-reality, fairy-tale thoughts designed to distract or deceive you from the truth.

It’s about right thinking and thinking right. Its thinking about things the way God does.

Imagine if the words you knew were God’s Word. Your thoughts would become God’s thoughts. You attitudes would be transformed into godly attitudes. Your choices would reflect wisdom and simple obedience. Your character would be defined by the fruit of the Spirit and your legacy would last into eternity.

This is why Scripture talks about how you think so much. Here are a few verses that remind us how to think and give us a pattern for how to learn better words.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven…” – Colossians 3:1-2 (NLT)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (NLT)

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

“We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLV)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:11 (NLT)

What thoughts will consume you today? How will you let God change your mind today?


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for doing more than saving me. You have shown me how to follow you more closely each day. You’ve given me the strength to do it. You’ve given me your Word and told me your thoughts about how life, about how your world really works. I pray that today I would learn from and trust your word. Help me memorize your word. Through your Spirit you’ve placed your word in my heart, now take the specifics of your written word and help me write those words in my mind. I want to honor you today with my words, thoughts and choices.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Want more? Check out: Self-Help: You 2.0 – The Better Version of You

Self-Help: You 2.0 – The Better Version of You

self-helpColossians 2

My three-year-old son went to the office with me the other day. It didn’t take him long to discover the stash of Tootsie Rolls in my desk drawer. After I found the fifteenth wrapper on the floor I turned to him and said, “You’re gonna turn into a Tootsie Roll!” Without hesitation he responded matter-of-factly, “No-no, Dad, I turn into Spider-Man.”

Last year people spent more than $12 billion on self-help books. It seems like, for $15.99, anyone can find the formula for You 2.0 – The Better Version of You. But what do we really get for the money? Have you really mastered the seven habits of highly effective people? Are you living your best life now? Today, will you win friends and influence people? How have you really grown from ingesting all these self-help books?

Don’t get me wrong. These books can be helpful. They can help us discover areas of our lives that need attention. Through them we can learn best practices for business, finance and leadership. But at the end of every self-help book the theme is the same. They reveal how you can identify ways to turn over a new leaf. And that’s the problem. I have a friend that says when you turn over a new leaf all you find is old dirt.

It’s true. And that’s what Colossians 2 is all about. It’s what makes reading Scripture different from reading self-help books. God has no intention of creating a better version of you. He wants to reveal Christ in you. Your life becomes a reflection of Him. It’s not a better you. It’s a whole new you. It’s not about turning over a new leaf. It about finding a new life. Take a look at Colossians 2:6-7:

“As you have put your trust in Christ Jesus the Lord to save you from the punishment of sin, now let Him lead you in every step. Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life should be full of thanks to Him.”

Some day, my son wants to be Spider-Man. There’s no self-help book in the world that can make that happen. If you remember the story Peter Parker had an encounter with a genetically enhanced radioactive spider that changed him on a fundamental level. He didn’t become a better version of himself. He became Spider-Man.

That’s what God wants to do in you and through you today. He’s not trying to make you better. He’s trying to make you holy. He’s not trying to clean you up on the outside. He’s trying to renew you on the inside. His work isn’t cosmetic. It’s foundational. People who have a genuine encounter with God are never the same. Now, let him lead you in every step. Plant your roots deep in him. Get your strength from him. Let him make you strong in faith. This change on the inside will lead to change on the outside. It won’t be a better version of you. It will be you, renewed.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me everything I need for life and godliness through your son. Today, I ask you to strengthen my faith. Help my roots grow deep in you. Do something in me and through me that can’t be explained because of me. I don’t want to waste my time turning over new leafs or trying to build a better version of me. I’d rather learn to become an incredible reflection of you.

I love you, in Jesus name –


A Prayer for One Another


Colossians 1:9-14 is a prayer Paul prayed for the people in the church at Colosse. It’s a great prayer for us to pray for one another.

“This is why I have never stopped praying for you since I heard about you. I ask God that you may know what He wants you to do. I ask God to fill you with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives. Then your lives will please the Lord. You will do every kind of good work, and you will know more about God. I pray that God’s great power will make you strong, and that you will have joy as you wait and do not give up. I pray that you will be giving thanks to the Father. He has made it so you could share the good things given to those who belong to Christ who are in the light. God took us out of a life of darkness. He has put us in the holy nation of His much-loved Son. We have been bought by His blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Him.” – Colossians 1:9-14

Let’s break it down.

  • Never stopped praying – it’s a constant conversation between Paul and God on behalf of the church at Colosse.
  • That you may know what He wants you to do – You can’t live God’s will if you don’t know God’s will. Knowing his will starts with knowing him, his word and his people.
  • Fill you with wisdom and understanding – wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know. Understanding is the confident recognition of the effect and outcome of our choices. The Holy Spirit provides this kind of insight.
  • Lives will please the Lord, every good work, know more about God – a life that pleases God is a life of action. It’s a life of choices. It’s not doing one good thing. It’s doing every good work. I can’t do this on my own, but the more I learn about God, the greater capacity I have to make choices his way.
  • Strength, joy, patience, endurance, thanks – These are gifts from God. Something God produces in you and through you to help you follow him and bless others. Strength to choose right. Joy from choosing right. Patience to give our right choices time to achieve their full effect. Endurance to stand even when making the right choice leads to harder circumstances and not easier. And finally thanks that God would choose us, involve us in his plan and give us what we need to succeed.
  • He has made it so you could share the good things – In 7 days God created the world and every step of the way he declared it good. All the good things God has created he’s made available to his children.
  • Took us out of darkness – Now we can see. We don’t have to be afraid.
  • Put us in the nation of his much-love son – We are citizens of heaven. This world is not our home. Like an Ambassador from another country, we have diplomatic immunity from the laws of this world. In other words, we don’t have to live by the world’s rules anymore.
  • We have been bought by his blood and made free – we once were slaves. Now we’re free. The price for our lives paid by the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Our sins are forgiven – you have been made right with God.

Let’s pray Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse for one another today.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the other Believer’s you’ve placed in my life and the way they love, encourage and challenge me. I won’t stop praying for these people. I pray that you will let them know what you want them to do. I pray that you will fill them with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives so their lives will please the Lord and they will do every kind of good work, and know more about God. I pray that your great power will make them strong, and that they will have joy as they wait and do not give up. I pray that they will give thanks to you. You have made it so they could share the good things given to those who belong to Christ who are in the light. You took us out of a life of darkness. You have put us in the holy nation of your much-loved Son. We have been bought by your blood and made free. Our sins are forgiven through Jesus. This is our prayer for one another. Thank you.

I love you, in Jesus name –