Text: Colossians 4:2-4 8/5/07 AM
Thesis: To pray correctly we must persevere, be thankful, and be intentional.
Intro: The main point of the sermon today is this: to pray correctly we must persevere in prayer and be thankful in prayer
If you get one thing get this: an effective prayer life is founded on consistency and gratitude.
How many of us have stopped praying for something or for a period of time stopped praying all together?
Have you ever been ungrateful in your prayers angrily making demands of God?
Has there been a time when you bowed your head to pray and you didn’t pray because you didn’t know anything to pray about?
Today, from Colossians 4:2-4, the Spirit will give us the remedy for ineffective or non-existent prayer lives
Read Colossians 4:2-4
I) Here is how to pray
a) Continue steadfastly in prayer
i) Keep on praying. Continue earnestly in prayer.
ii) We are not to dabble in prayer we are to devote ourselves to praying.
iii) Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
iv) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
v) 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,”
vi) Have you ever thought about why these 4 different churches needed to be reminded or commanded to pray?
vii) The Colossian church was told to engage themselves in prayer. The church in Rome was urged to be faithful in prayer.
viii) The church in Thessalonica was told to pray and not stop. The Apostle Paul pleaded with the church in Ephesus to pray for people.
ix) Why do you think that is? Why did the Spirit need to command the people to continue steadfastly in prayer?
x) It is because our tendency is to forsake prayer. I tendency is to read the bible, read books, go to work, spend time with our families, entertain ourselves, and altogether fill up our time and thereby neglect prayer.
xi) Rarely do we neglect prayer because we hate it or find it painful. Prayer is something that we unwittingly work out of our daily lives.
xii) Quietly, consistently, unintentionally we stop praying.
xiii) This is precisely why the Spirit preserved Colossians 4:2 for you and for me.
xiv) Left on our own we will stop praying or only offer weak ineffective prayers.
xv) If you have stopped praying today is the day to start again. If your prayer life is lagging today is the day to seek new life.
xvi) God in his grace has come to us this morning and commanded faithfulness in prayer and also told us how to be faithful in prayer.
xvii) In order to be faithful in prayer we be two things: watchful and thankful. (Read Col 4:2)
b) Be watchful in prayer
i) Being watchful in prayer implies numerous principles of prayer recorded in Scripture.
ii) First, being watchful means in it’s simplest form to stay awake when praying; don’t fall asleep.
iii) You may be thinking right now about the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane before Christ’s crucifixion.
iv) They are sleeping and Jesus comes to them and says
38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
v) The disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open long enough to pray so Jesus tells them to wake up. Be alert, look alive, be watchful.
vi) We need to find the time of day when we are the most awake and dedicate that time to prayer. We need to position our bodies in a way that keeps us alert.
vii) The favorite easy chair, lying in bed before sleep, propping up on our hands, and positions like that will put me to sleep in prayer. Forsake those.
viii) Second, being watchful in prayer means being intentional and focused in prayer.
ix) Jesus told the disciples to watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
x) It’s not enough just to pray. It’s not enough just to know ourselves and the situations that lead us into sin.
xi) We need to watch ourselves and dedicate ourselves to prayer. Otherwise we will stop praying, rely on our own strength, and fall.
xii) Or we will mindlessly wonder through prayer, spend our time praying about nothing, and when temptation comes knocking we will naively and painfully open the door.
xiii) Third, being watchful means to look for and be prepared for Christ’s return. Matthew 24:40-42
40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
xiv) When we pray we should be looking for and longing for the return of Christ.
xv) Paul concluded 1 Corinthians with the prayer, ‘Our Lord, come!’ It’s the phrase maranatha.
xvi) Instead of falling asleep, wandering mindlessly, and ignoring the return of Christ in our prayers we are to be watchful.
xvii) Find way to stay awake. You do not have to close your eyes to pray. This may surprise you but no where in Scripture are we commanded to or encouraged to close our eyes when we pray.
xviii) It can be helpful to remove distractions but closing the eyes can also be harmful by helping us fall asleep.
xix) Where closing your eyes is helpful do it. Where closing your eyes is harmful do not do it.
xx) Find ways to be intentional in your prayers. Fundamentally, here in Colossians 4:2, we are encouraged to ask God for things. We are to make requests or petition God.
xxi) In a moment we will explore some specific things to pray for intentionally but we are not limited to those things.
xxii) Please, please, please prayer specifically. Save this person, heal that person, grow this church, mature that believer, raise up missionaries for Southern Sudan, and on and on.
xxiii) Christ calls us to ask in his name so that we will receive and our joy be full. That’s John 16:24 if you are keeping score.
xxiv) Christian, you may lack joy in your life because you have stopped asking. You’ve given up pursuing God so you have given up joy.
xxv) Ask for things but ask specifically, repeatedly, and ferociously for the return of Christ.
xxvi) Like Jacob wrestling with God we are to wrestle in prayer for the swift return of Christ.
xxvii) When’s the last time you stayed awake, were intentional with your requests, and begged for Christ’s return? Your answer may be precisely why you are or are not experiencing joy right now.
xxviii) Be watchful in prayer and
c) Clothe your prayers with thanksgiving
i) We are to pray to our God as grateful servants. Servants who have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.
ii) As many times as the church was told to be faithful in prayer the church was also told to be thankful in prayer.
iii) Faithfulness and thankfulness go hand in hand.
iv) If we are to continue steadfastly in prayer, which we have seen means to keep on asking God for things, then we have to clothe our prayers with thanksgiving.
v) If there is no thanksgiving for the past work of God we will eventually stop asking for God to work in the future.
vi) Before you ask God for the thousandth time be sure to thank Him for the thousandth time.
vii) Thank Him for His faithfulness to His people for thousands upon thousands of years.
viii) Thank Him that he is more faithful to us than we are faithful to Him. He doesn’t abandon us when we abandon prayer. Thank Him.
ix) Be intentional in your requests and be intentional in your thanksgiving. You may need to make a list of specific requests and you may need to make a list of specific things you are thankful for.
x) If you don’t have a good at remembering write it down. Whatever it takes just be sure to thank God.
xi) Don’t forget who you are talking to. Don’t forget what He did so that you could talk to Him.
xii) Remember His nature, remember His son, remember the cross, remember the resurrection, and thank Him.
II) Alright now, what to pray (read 3&4)
a) Pray for yourself and pray for others
i) It was important to the Apostle Paul that the church pray for him.
ii) When you are a risk taker, when you are all-in for the kingdom of God, prayer becomes very important.
iii) When you are invested in ministry and doing battle against the ruler of this age prayer is crucial.
iv) So then it becomes obvious to us why prayer is inconsequential to many of our lives; prayer doesn’t matter to many of us because we aren’t in the game.
v) The more a person, family, and church begin to move forward for the kingdom of Christ the more opposition Satan will bring against that progress.
vi) The Apostle Paul was in jail for sharing the life changing message that Jesus saves.
vii) He knew he wasn’t in a battle against flesh and blood. This wasn’t about a few synagogue leaders and the high priest not liking Paul as a person.
viii) Paul was in a struggle because he had gone to war for God against Satan and it was just that; it was war.
ix) So he needed the help of the folks back home. He needed their backing. He needed their prayers.
x) Your prayers matter. Your prayers for your spouse, your kids, your Sunday school teacher, your pastor, and for missionaries, all your prayers matter. They are needed.
xi) I need to do it more, but occassionaly I’ll take Abigail over to the big world map on the wall in the fellowship hall and we’ll pray for missionaries.
xii) I point at the country to show her where they are, I’ll tell her their names and what they are doing, and then we pray for them.
xiii) My little girl and I go to war. Prayer is that important. Our friends and family, our pastors here at Mambrino, our Southern Baptist missionaries need our prayers.
xiv) Prayer makes a difference and when we pray in accordance with Scripture that’s the good stuff.
xv) Here is what to pray
b) Pray God will provide opportunities to share the gospel
i) It is interesting here that Paul doesn’t ask the church to pray that people would be saved.
ii) Paul didn’t ask them to pray for that because Paul knew God was going to do that. What Paul wanted was the people to pray for an open door to share the gospel.
iii) Paul knew that when the gospel was shared people got saved. Not everyone was saved and it wasn’t easy but when the gospel went out the children of God were gathered in.
iv) So, we should also be praying for ourselves and for others that God would open up doors for us.
v) God, the people at my work are cold to the gospel. Provide opportunities for me to share with them.
vi) God, my neighbors or my family don’t want to hear about the amazing work of Jesus Christ open up doors.
vii) Now, we need to realize what we are praying for. We may be praying for God to make someone sick; a humbling disease.
viii) Remember when the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on Malta? He was bitten by a snake and when the people expected him to die and then he didn’t it opened up a door for Paul to preach the gospel.
ix) We may be praying for God to throw us in prison. God provided opportunities for the Apostle Paul to speak about salvation for Jew and Gentile alike in the work of Christ and it landed him an all expense paid trip to jail.
x) But from that jail cell the gospel spread rapidly.
xi) The prayer for an open door may bring smooth waters but it may also bring a storm. I don’t want you to be discouraged by the storm.
xii) God can use that difficulty to do great things and save many souls. Don’t waste your pain.
xiii) Pray that God will use that pain to open up doors for the gospel. And
c) Pray we all would share the gospel clearly
i) In Romans 1:16 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
ii) In Romans 10:14 the Apostle Paul asks the question, “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?”
iii) If grandmothers and grandfathers are going to be saved. If moms and dads are going to be saved. If newly weds and teenagers are going to find joy in Christ you are going to have to open your mouth.
iv) This gospel that saves is the gospel which must be declared, uttered, spoken, or shared.
v) When we speak the Gospel we need to know what we are saying and we need to say it clearly.
vi) Don’t hide the saving message of Christ behind church-isms like walking the isle or being washed in the blood.
vii) Use words that are easy to understand.
viii) It is true that God can do anything he wants to do. He can cause a fish to swallow a man and three days later spit him out on dry land.
ix) He can cause the sun to stand still. He can turn the Nile River into blood. He can do whatever He wants.
x) But it is also true that God has chosen to save people through the right proclamation of the gospel.
xi) A person cannot be saved unless they believe in Christ. A person cannot believe in Christ unless they hear about Christ. A person cannot hear about Christ unless you tell them.
xii) We need to pray daily for ourselves, each other, and our missionaries that God would provide opportunities for us to share about the saving work of Christ.
xiii) Teenagers, kids, you want to rattle your parents? Tell them you are going to pray daily that God will provide opportunities for them to share the gospel with their co-workers and friends.
xiv) Then go and do it and see what God does.
xv) And we need to pray and watch daily that we will be clear when we open our mouths. We need to be studying the gospel so that we may not get it wrong.
xvi) It is only THE gospel that is the power of God unto salvation. If it is not THE gospel then there is no power of God and there is no salvation.
xvii) That is why the gospel must be clear in our minds and clear in our words.
xviii) The God who can do whatever He wants has chosen to save people by you declaring the glories of Jesus Christ to everyone around you.
xix) Pray and open your mouth and see who God will save.