September 15, 2021
The Secret to Powerful Prayer
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“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding …” Colossians 1:9 (ESV)
When I was a young believer and I heard other Christians talking about the “power of prayer,” I secretly wondered what they meant.
Prayer seemed to me a rather dull exercise. I mean, I loved God, and l wanted to learn more about Him through His Word, but I had a hard time getting into prayer. It felt foreign and strange, and I wondered if that meant something was defective about my faith.
Have you ever felt that way, too? Have you ever struggled with feeling like your prayers just aren’t “powerful enough”? Like maybe something is lacking in your prayer life?
That was me for a long time. And yet, the more I read through Paul’s letters in the New Testament, the more I noticed his passion for prayer. He never ceased to pray? How could he have done that?
When I compared my perfunctory prayers with Paul’s passionate prayers, I felt even worse about my lack of enthusiasm for prayer. Clearly, Paul didn’t pray like it was some obligatory ritual. He prayed with fervor, and I wanted the same kind of fervor Paul had.
Then something in Paul’s words to the Colossians stood out to me. In his opening remarks, Paul says, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you …” (Colossians 1:9).
The part about not ceasing to pray had always caught my eye before — and left me feeling somewhat defeated — but what did Paul mean by “from the day we heard”?
A little research showed me that a pastor named Epaphras, from Colossae, visited Paul in Rome while he was under house arrest. Epaphras sought Paul’s wisdom for some of the challenges the church was experiencing back in Colossae.
And here’s the thing: Paul had never met the believers in Colossae. He had only heard about them from Epaphras. (Colossians 1:7) But Paul loved this fledgling congregation from the moment he first heard about them, and he committed himself to praying for them. Paul was literally praying for people he had never met, and he was praying that they would “be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
Could the secret to a powerful prayer life be found in a genuine passion for people to know Christ and to know Him more fully? A closer study of Paul’s prayers would seem to indicate so. (Romans 1:8-10; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-5)
I began to pray for certain people in my life to know Christ. And the more I prayed, the more I actually wanted to pray, which was kind of crazy. But as I prayed, my heart grew for people. They were no longer mere names on a prayer list because they were people I had begun to invest myself in.
A powerful prayer life comes from a heart that overflows with love for people and a deep desire for them to know Christ.
Friend, maybe you’ve had a passion for prayer for a long time, but maybe, like me, you’ve struggled at times with prayer, too. If that’s you, I want to encourage you with the same truth that encouraged me.
A passion for people leads to a passion for prayer.
And God is always faithful to grow in us a deeper passion for every human soul who has been made in His image. The secret to powerful prayer never starts with us. It always begins with Him and is sustained by Him. When we seek Him, He is faithful to draw near and fill us with more of Him. To God be all the glory.
Lord, I pray You grow in me a passion for people, especially for those who don’t yet know You. Create in me a heart that longs for others to know the same grace and mercy that You have shown me. May I be a living, breathing testimony to the goodness of who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Colossians 1:3-4, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints …” (ESV)
Ask God to help you really see each person you meet today, and commit to praying for them. In the comments, write a prayer for someone you know — or someone you don’t know — who is struggling right now.
© 2021 by Denise Hughes. All rights reserved.