Colossians 4:2-6 and 12
I think about how the disciples were with Jesus constantly. They followed Him and witnessed the things that He said and did. In 2 Peter 1 we read; “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye witnesses of His majesty” … John writes in 1 John 1; “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched, this we proclaim…” And, in their being with him and observing him, they began to “connect the dots” and realize the importance of Prayer.
When we read the accounts of Jesus, we notice that he finds a quiet place to pray; he finds a quiet time to pray; and he has a quiet heart – in that he truly listens for God’s voice. Jesus knew, as we must come to know, that prayer is a necessity of life. It is through prayer – talking with and listening to God – that we really come to know Him and create a relationship with Him. It is through prayer that we come to know what God desires for us and from us in this life. Imagine what kind of relationship we would have if I never talked with, or listened to, my wife!
Now, I also have found that just having a quiet time and a quiet place does not necessarily guarantee effectiveness in prayer. I have searched the scriptures and – although there are verses that say things like; “Call unto me and I will give you the desires of your heart”…and, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you”… Or, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” …. There are also verses like Mark 11:24 – “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him,” which is the rest of that verse. Forgiveness is a two-way street, regardless of the hurt. If you don’t give you don’t get. I wonder how many Christians would want God to forgive them in the same way they have forgiven others?
*An unforgiving heart will stop our prayers dead in their tracks! Psalm 66:18 is a statement of the obvious; “If I cherish sin in my heart, the Lord will not listen”…*If there is active sin, or if we are “continuing in sin” as John calls it, our prayers are not even heard.
Proverbs 21:13 says; “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” That simply means that *a lack of compassion will hinder our prayers.
1 Peter 3:7 says; “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers…For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” *A lack of domestic peace, or peace in the family, will affect our prayers.
1 John 5:14 says; “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Our prayers *must be in the will of God. Notice that I did not say “if” it’s God’s will, but “in” God’s will. There are times – for instance – when seeking a job position, when we should pray “If it is God’s will”…but most often we already know from His Word if something is God’s will.
And finally, Matt. 21:22; Mark 11:24; and Romans 14:23 say that *faithless prayers are not answered. “All things are possible to him who believes”! Why ask God to heal sickness if we don’t really believe he can or he will?
So, we are back to unbelief. Jesus said; “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I put up with you?” Perhaps the right thing to do is to be like the father of the possessed boy in our scripture who cries out; “I do believe, but Lord help me overcome my unbelief!”
In our scripture today, we have another example we can look at and that is Epaphras. First of all, Paul identifies him as a “servant of Christ”…to be a servant, one must have a master. He had made a choice in life, and Christ was his master! Second, it says that Epaphras was “always wrestling in prayer” for them. Another translation says that he “labored” in prayer. Epaphras wasn’t a “bless Mary and bless John” kind of person, he was a prayer warrior! He was the type of person described in James 5:16 where it says; “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”! How we need those who would “labor” in prayer today!
Epaphras was not focused on selfish desires; he was an intercessor, praying for others. As intercessor’s we ought to be always praying for the church and its people as well. We surely ought to have a prayer list for the sick and the needy. But, the most important prayer list should be for those whom we know to be unsaved. In the realm of prayer it ought to take precedent because we already know that “It is God’s will that not one should perish.”
Salvation, the forgiveness of sin, and the promise of eternal life is given to every person who repents and receives Christ by faith. I think it is the responsibility of every Christian to pray for the lost. However, we won’t pray for the lost unless we have (a.) the right belief and (b.) the right burden.
Do you believe that Jesus meant what he said that a person “must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven”? We must have the right belief. Do you believe it when Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me”? Your brother, your sister, your Mother, your Father, your neighbor, your daughter, your son…are not good enough to get into heaven! They need Jesus! There are a lot of “good” people headed for Hell! We must have the right belief and the right burden or we will not pray!
I read that W.C. Fields was on his deathbed when a friend dropped in to see him and found him reading the Bible. A little surprised, he asked what Fields was doing? “Looking for loopholes, my friend, looking for loopholes.” In order to have the right belief, we need to understand that there are no loopholes! God doesn’t grade on a curve!
Hopefully, if we have the right belief it will give us the right burden. Many hearts have grown cold concerning the eternal destiny of others. We figure they will hear it sooner or later and make their own decision. Or, we may think they have heard and have already made a decision. Is that good enough for you? Not for me either. One of Satan’s schemes is to get us to neglect praying for the lost.
I looked up the word “intercessor” and one of the meanings was “to represent”…When we pray for others, we are representing them before God. That’s what Jesus did on our behalf. He not only came to represent us before God… but to – re-present – God to us!
Let me close with this scripture from 2 Cor. 5 – “Since then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men…All this is from God, who reconciled himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us.”
It is not only a responsibility to pray…it is our privilege to pray.