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A Preacher's Prayer

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Colossians Series #3

A Preacher's Prayer

By Bill Denton

Introduction

A.  Illustration

My four-year-old likes to say the blessing at mealtimes, usually repeating the same short prayer: "Thank you, God, for this gracious food. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen."

One evening, however, he thanked the Lord for the birds, the trees, each of his friends, and asked God to watch over his family and help them to be good. I was thrilled that he was finally praying from the heart.

But after the "Amen," he took a spoonful of stew, gasped, then dropped his spoon into the bowl. "I should have said a longer prayer," he said. "My food is still too hot."

Catherine Jones, Kerrville, Texas. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."

1.  We need to see the application to life -- some of us should pray longer - life is hot!

2.  One of the lessons is that we need God far more than we realize, until it's too late

B.  Prayer is an interesting subject

1.  Luke 11:1 -- Jesus' disciples wanted to know how to pray

1It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” NASB95

2.  Matthew 14:23 -- Jesus, himself, was a praying man

23After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. NASB95

3.  The Bible is filled with passages that tell us that we should be praying people

4.  To me, what is even more encouraging, more instructive, and more motivating is to

     read the prayers found in the Bible -- this isn't someone telling me to pray, it's

     someone showing me how to pray

a.  Mt 6:9ff -- sometimes called "the Lord's prayer" was meant to teach us how

    to pray

b.  Jn 17 -- the "real" Lord's prayer - this is Jesus praying, revealing his heart, his

     mind, and how these things were expressed to the Father

C.  Paul's prayers are equally helpful - they are the prayers of an apostle / preacher

1.  I find that kind of prayer helpful because preachers must know God and people

2.  In those prayers we discover things of primary importance (Col 1:9-12)

I.  Paul Prayed For The Colossians (1:9)

A.  Paul's prayer is so simple, so basic, and yet so profound for it touches on two things that

     are absolutely essential to Christians

1.  First, Paul prayed that the Colossian Christians be filled with the knowledge of

     God's will

a.  the greatest thing we can ever do is to know the will of God

b.  Romans 12:2 --  2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed

     by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is,

     that which is good and acceptable and perfect. NASB95

c.  Hebrews 10:36 --  36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have

     done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. NASB95

d.  1 Peter 4:2 --  2so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the

     lusts of men, but for the will of God. NASB95

e.  1 Peter 5:2 --  2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not

     under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for

     sordid gain, but with eagerness; NASB95

f.  1 John 2:17 --  17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who

     does the will of God lives forever. NASB95

g.  it makes perfect sense for a preacher to pray that people know the will of God

1)  his life's work is dedicated to proclaiming God's word and will

2)  his life's work is tested by how well he communicates God's will

3)  if he loves people, his main concern is to see that God's will is sown

     in and bears fruit in human lives

2.  Knowing God's will must be translated into life

a.  this is why we sometimes say that the study of God's word must never be just

     an academic exercise

1)  it is entirely possible for a person to study God's word, and know what

     it says about God's will; and be able to quote it, expound upon it, and

     explain it, yet not live it

2)  God wants practitioners more than he wants academics

b.  the key is spiritual wisdom and understanding

1)  wisdom = sophia - first-principle insight

2)  understanding = sunesis - critical knowledge, deeper insight

B.  We need to pay attention to things people prayed for that are recorded in scripture

1.  Jn 17 -- Jesus prayed for some truly important things

a.  our sanctification

b.  our unity

c.  We understand the importance of these because Jesus prayed for them

2.  Do we get the same point from Paul's prayer?

a.  Paul prayed for two basic things

1)  that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God's will

2)  that they develop both wisdom and understanding (which is the fertile

     ground of practical application of God's will to life)

b.  it is unacceptable, therefore, to settle for living in ways that are inconsistent

    with God's will

1)  we need to learn better

2)  we need to do better

II.  The Connection Between Knowing God's Will And Doing God's Will (1:10-12)

A.  The direct connection is made and emphasized with two phrases

1.  "So that you will walk in manner worthy of the Lord"

2.  "To please him in all respects"

3.  How much clearer could it be that the purpose of knowing God's will and developing

     the practical wisdom and understanding to apply it to life must have its purpose

     fulfilled in the way we live our lives

B.  We don't always appreciate the need to grow in our knowledge of God's will and it's

     connection to living out God's will in the conduct of our lives

1.  Illustration

Robert Fulghum wrote a little book titled, "All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten."  It's a catchy title, and if you've read it, you know it contains some true and foundational information about living life.  The title, however, is dead wrong.  Nobody has ever learned all they really needed to know in kindergarten.  But the bigger problem is that a lot of Christians seem to believe that what they learned in the early stages of their faith is all they need to know to serve God, and follow Jesus.  They don't continue to grow in knowledge, they don't develop deeper wisdom and understanding.  They stagnate, and they are not able to live out God's will as fully as they should.

2.  We are far more satisfied with a far more shallow life of faith than God has in mind

C.  Paul lists four things that we need to demonstrate in the way we live

1.  Bearing fruit in every good work

a.  Paul's theological opposition to justification by works sometimes confuses

    people into thinking that somehow faith is opposed to work

b.  there is a difference between "works" and "work"

1)  by "works" Paul usually had in mind something a person offered to

     God as a basis for justification - Paul said "that won't work!"

2)  but the Bible frequently urges us to allow our faith to work

a) 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 --  2We give thanks to God always for all

     of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3constantly

     bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and

     steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence

     of our God and Father, NASB95

b)  Ephesians 2:10 --  10For we are His workmanship, created in

     Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand

     so that we would walk in them. NASB95

c.  the question for us becomes this:  do we know the will of God well enough to

    have a faith that works for God in every way that God would want us to work?

2.  Increasing in the knowledge of God

a.  we need to see that growing in our knowledge of God is a never-ending thing

b.  David Garland

"Knowing God becomes even more crucial in an age that prizes knowing everything but God."

c.  Three serious observations (adapted from David Garland)

1)  every spiritual crisis derives from a failure to know God (Rom 1:18ff)

2)  Christians must move beyond rudimentary fundamentals and cursory

     confessions if our faith is to have any effect on the way we think

     or live (Lk 6:46 - why call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?)

3)  Knowledge of God results in understanding what is happening around

     us so that we are not taken by surprise or shaken

3.  Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might

a.  we've talked before about how we're not on some spiritual self-help project

1)  we have divine resources available to us - God is at work in us

2)  Philippians 2:13 --  13for it is God who is at work in you, both to will

     and to work for His good pleasure. NASB95

b.  God's divine help develops two things that are both vital to living God's will

1)  steadfastness -- the ability to stay on course with deliberate purpose

2)  patience or endurance -- the ability to hang in there for the long haul

4.  Giving thanks to the Father

a.  most of us find it far easier to complain than to give thanks

b.  the quality of gratitude, and the act of giving thanks is meant to reflect the

     whole of our lives as followers of Jesus Christ

c.  it's a hard thing to accomplish, but if we are not giving thanks, then we are

    only showing that we do not really understand how God is in control, how

    we effectively serve God, and where everything, including us, is headed

Conclusion

A.  This is a powerful preacher's prayer

1.  I want you to be filled with the knowledge of God's will

2.  Develop spiritual wisdom and understanding

3.  The whole purpose is so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, and that

     pleases Him in all respects

4.  You'll do that as you:

a.  bear fruit in every good work

b.  grow in the knowledge of God

c.  are strengthened with all power according to His glorious might

d.  give thanks to the Father

B.  Is this your approach to being a disciple of Jesus?

C.  Invitation

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