Final Instructions

Posted by on Aug 30, 2013 in Faith Words |

 

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

August 25, 2013 

“Final Instructions”

Colossians 4:2-6

This week we conclude our study of Colossians by reading Paul’s final instructions to the church.  Paul began his letter talking about prayer: 

            In our prayers we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have       heard of your faith in Christ Jesus (1:3-4a).  For this reason since the day we heard it,            we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the             knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (1: 9).

 And now his final instructions remind the church that nothing is more important than prayer. 

There are four aspects of prayer that Paul gives:

1. Faithful Praying – “Devote yourself to prayer.”  Another translation – “Continue earnestly in prayer.”

Did you know that we are to live in a perpetual state of prayer? 1 Thes.5:17 and Eph.6:18 tell us we are to pray continually. What does that look like? Does it mean we must be whispering prayers to God every moment? No, but we are to be ready to break into prayer at anytime.  As we enjoy the beauty of nature.. on those times when everything is going wonderfully …during seasons of hardship and struggle…at all times.   This may seem like a very difficult thing to do and at times we may find ourselves wondering, “God, why are you asking this impossible thing?”  Because when we live in this way our prayer life becomes stronger.   Prayer is like a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it gets and when you don’t use it, atrophy sets in. It is awfully hard to get a muscle to work after atrophy has set in. Many of us have experienced this physically. There have been seasons when we haven’t exercised and then one day we decide to change our ways and we devote time to rigorous exercise. And what happens? The next day every muscle in our body hurts and we want to crawl up on the sofa. The last thing we want to do is exercise; yet if we want our muscles to become stronger that’s precisely what we need to do. 

 2. Watchful Praying – “being vigilant in it” or “being watchful” (wide awake).

Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.  One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.  A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.  Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.  “I closed the door,” the boy replied, “lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.” 

Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are giving our full attention.

The gospels contain many examples of Jesus’ prayer life. One of the most poignant ones was when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed so earnestly that his sweat became like drops of blood. And he invited those with him to pray with him; but they just didn’t have the stamina.  Then Jesus said to Peter “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation” Matt.26:41.  And we know the story: Peter wasn’t vigilant in prayer. Peter succumbed to his fears, he denied Christ.  We need to be vigilant in prayer because we don’t know what lies ahead of us on the journey.

 3. Thankful Praying – “with thanksgiving.”  And Paul models this . “We always thank God” (1:3)

Giving thanks to the Father (1:12). Continue to live your lives. Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith; abounding with thanksgiving 2:7. Let the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts…and be thankful (3:15).  And whatever you do … do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks (3:17).  Devote yourself to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving (4:2).

Six times Paul stresses this in this very short letter. Probably half of our time in prayer should be taken up in thanksgiving. We overlook the many ways God blesses us. Being thankful in prayer takes away our tendency to pray selfishly.

4. Praying for others – Paul reminds them to “pray for us.” 

This morning you will have the opportunity to come forward for healing – you may be praying for your own need or you may be praying for someone else. There is a card in your bulletin for you to write that name – if you don’t know how to pray just remember this little girl:

            A heart-broken little girl began to kneel and pour out her heart to God in the altar at her      local church. She did not know what to say. As she wept, speechless, she began to   remember what her father had told her, “God knows your needs even before you pray,       and he can answer when you don’t even know for what to ask.” So she began to say her         alphabet.

            A concerned adult from that church knelt beside her and heard her sobbing and saying     her ABC’s and inquired what exactly she was trying to do. The little girl told this caring       adult, “I’m praying to God from my heart.” But the adult answered, “It sounds to me more         like you are saying the alphabet!”

            “Yes,” she said, “But God knows more about what I need than I do, and he can take all      these letters and arrange them in just the right way to hear and answer my prayers!”

That’s what happens when we come forward for healing- God takes all of those mixed up  feelings…and when we honestly come trusting in God’s love God can arrange the letters in the right way and answer our prayers.