What do you say when you pray? That’s a question I’ve always asked. You hear of great Christian leaders in the past who would rise 3 hours before dawn to pray, but what did they spend all that time praying about?
Paul gives us a taste of what he prays about in his letter to the Colossians. He tells us that he doesn’t stop praying for the Colossians (1:9). What does he pray for them? That they would come to understand God’s will fully (1:9), and that that understanding would cause them to live worthy lives (1:10). It’s Paul’s plan for Christian maturity. He wants all Christians to grow in maturity in Christ (1:28). He sees that as a combination of knowing what God wants and then putting it into practice. It starts with knowing the word through the power of the Spirit and then living consistently with that. When Paul fleshes that out he uses the same language he used for what is happening with the gospel in the world: bearing fruit and growing (1:6, 10). In other words, Paul prays that the gospel will bear fruit and grow in the lives of the Colossians.
Likewise, when Paul asks for prayer from the Colossians he asks for an open door for the gospel (4:3-4). Though he is in chains, his greater concern is that the gospel is unchained. This may include his release, it may not, but his primary concern is that the gospel is preached. Again, Paul wants prayer for gospel growth.
What is it that we pray for? It’s good to pray for healing from sickness, improved circumstances, job, house, family, etc. This is right and good because we are to bring everything before God in prayer. But the centre of our prayers, if we are going to pray like Paul, is gospel growth. What does that mean? It means praying that Christians will mature, and that many more people will become Christian. Here and overseas. How do we do that well? I take it, it will mean praying for many people. That takes a little organisation. Some people produce lists of people to pray for and work through those lists gradually. Some get updates from missionaries (local and overseas) and use their prayer points to educate their prayers. Find what works for you and let’s pray like Paul – for gospel growth.