Have you ever read through the Pauline Epistles (letters in the New Testament written by Paul) taking special note of his prayers for the believers? They are powerful! Colossians 1:9-14 would be one example.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and 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 giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Note the pronounced spiritual focus of this prayer. As believers, we should have an eternal perspective. It is true that we are living here on earth, but earthly experience can’t be optimized until we prioritize the spiritual. We need spiritual wisdom and strength so that we won’t be overwhelmed by the circumstances of life.
Too often I find that Christians seem to spend most of their time praying about earthly and physical things…sickness, unemployment, safety, daily needs, etc. Now don’t get me wrong…we can and should pray for these things! The Lord’s Prayer does say “give us this day our daily bread” – but note that all the other parts of the Lord’s Prayer are about the eternal or spiritual – God’s kingdom, God’s will, forgiveness, avoiding temptation.
The Scriptural pattern seems to be that the majority of prayer is focused on the spiritual or eternal, and a minority of prayer on physical or earthly matters. And we seem to have reversed it entirely!
Look at those verses from Colossians again. Imagine if we were regularly praying for ourselves and for each other that we would… know God’s will, have spiritual insight, know more about God, have a worthy Christian walk, please God, have spiritual power, patience, endurance, joy and gratitude.
Wow – Doesn’t that pretty much cover it? No matter what physical or earthly problems are going on in our lives, this should prepare us to handle it. Maybe we would have a few less problems if we were regularly praying this way to begin with! Now do let me clarify that last sentence. We live in a fallen and broken world and oftentimes bad things just happen. But there are times when we bring hardship upon ourselves because we’ve made poor or sinful decisions. We plunged ahead without seeking God first about the matter. If we spent more time focused on the spiritual – praying that we’d have spiritual wisdom and please God – maybe at least some pitfalls in life could be avoided.
Some practical ideas:
- Use the Colossians passage as a model prayer. Ephesians 1 and 3 has some powerful prayers too. Use these as a guide and pray these verses for each other. Insert the name of who you are praying for… “I pray for Jim to know your will and be filled with spiritual insight.”
- Lead by example. The next time you are at a prayer meeting or time, share some spiritual needs and concerns. Try to gently encourage the group to move in an eternal and spiritual direction with their prayers for each other and the world.
The passages I mention happen to be my favorites, but there are many others that could be used as well. Do you have some favorite Scripture passages to pray for others?