A Pattern of Prayer - by Richard Neufeld
Colossians 1-2 begin with an introduction by Paul during one of his many imprisonments to a group of people in Colossus whom he had never met. He rejoices in thanksgiving that this church has been growing in love of Christ and demonstrating that love to one another as they continue to hope in the life to come. This is followed by a prayer that they would continue to grow in wisdom and understanding, being strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might, that they might joyfully endure whatever life throws at them.
Following this, Paul lays out a theologically dense and compact poem that tells all about the crucified and resurrected Christ. The first stanza tells how Jesus is first over all creation and is divine, how everything was made through Him and one day all things will bow before Him. He is also the head of a new body, the church, and it is in Him that we find the glorious presence of God as we are reconciled to Him by His death on the cross. Going on, Paul rejoices in his sufferings knowing that by them he is participating in the suffering Christ underwent. His punishment for proclaiming the Gospel is a badge of honour.
Paul then lays out warnings that these Colossians must not be drawn astray from the good news of Jesus Christ and follow after the pantheists and pagans, or those who seek to dilute the Gospel by following the now-obsolete Torah Law. He explains that Christ’s life and death and resurrection fulfilled the Law that we ought to trust in Him instead of the Law for our righteousness, that no following of the Law can save.
I know Philippians is Paul’s most joyful letter but I’ve found the letter to the Colossians just as uplifting. These two chapters alone are a great way to start each day, each week, and prove as a pattern after which we can model our minds and behaviour. Reading chapters one and two, we ourselves should start each day, each quiet time of prayer, or anything else with thanksgiving followed by acknowledging our need for wisdom and understanding. We ought to ask God routinely for the ability to understand His will and for increased humility and strength to obey it!
It is also of supreme worth to remind ourselves exactly who Christ is, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Always keep one eye or more on the bigger picture during your prayers. It is of the utmost importance for our prayer life to keep Christ as the number one priority and, as much as we ought to be diligent in all things, not to get distracted and weighed down by the nitty gritty. So often we find ourselves putting God aside to focus on ourselves, but that is an unholy priority. God wants us to keep our eyes on Him in utmost trust and faith that HE will take care of us and bring us along. We gain nothing by shutting Him out and becoming self-centered. Colossians reminds us of the place in which we ought to put Christ.
Following this we have healthy reminder that suffering is not an alien experience to humanity but was indeed the means by which Christ reconciled us to God. It is not something to intentionally seek out or to run away from, but we must not be surprised when we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. That’s because Christ has overcome the world and has shared in our suffering. On top of that, we know that He uses all things to the good of those who love Him, and that whatever comes our way in life will be shed when we step from our fallen humanity into His glorious, eternal presence!
With this in mind, Paul reminds us not to go chasing after supplements to our faith or let in anything that would dilute our dependence on Christ. Here we find firm and reliable words of the utter and comprehensive salvation given to those who turn to Him and that nothing of the flesh can compete with having the power that raised Christ from the dead also working in you.
Finally, we must not think more of ourselves than we ought. Here we find another key reminder that we are to submit to Christ and that which He asks us to do, even though it goes against our flesh. We should be so sold out to Christ that whatever it is He requires of us should find no competition in our sinful selves. We must watch for those who have the appearance of wisdom but ultimately promote themselves, but seek that which comes from God and promotes the unity and health of His body, this Church.
I would encourage everyone who reads this to try this pattern of prayer and see how the Lord works with you in it!
Take another read of Colossians 1-2: What sort of prayer pattern can you see there? What sort of changes would you make and why?
Dear Father, thank you for providing so much for us not only in the words of this book but also the ultimate act of love and salvation. Please help us to engage more deeply in prayer and chase after you as our greatest desire, laying aside everything else and rejoicing in your presence. Amen!
Song: Goodness of God (Bethel Music)
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.