Praying for Strangers
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9
How do you pray for a group of people you’ve never met? In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he prayed for such a group. The church’s pastor had probably asked for prayer for them (Colossians 1:6-7 and 4:12-13). Paul identified himself to the church as an apostle by the will of God accompanied by a brother in the Lord, Timothy (Colossians 1:1). He also told them he did not speak on his own authority, but on God’s.
Paul began by thanking God for the Colossians’ faith and love for all God’s people. This faith and love sprang from the hope stored up for them in heaven, which they had already heard “in the true message of the gospel” (1:4-5).
“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,” Paul told them (1:9b). They must seek God’s will as they did good deeds rather than doing what seemed like a good idea.
They exhibited some of the fruit of the Spirit—love and faith—but there was much more He had for them (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul prayed they would grow in the knowledge of God so they could live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way (Colossians 1:10).
Paul prayed they would not rely on their own strength, but instead be strengthened “with all power according to his glorious might so that [they might] have great endurance and patience (Colossians 1:11).
Paul closed his prayer with “joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:12). We are God’s people, not because of what we’ve accomplished for Him, but because God “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
Is this a prayer you’re willing to lift up to God for everyone on your prayer list, even the people you’ve never met?
Can you guess what problems Paul’s letter would address based on hints given in his prayer: “the true message of the gospel” (Colossians 1:4-5), “the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9b), “a life worthy of the Lord that pleases Him in every way (Colossians 1:10)?
How does James 3:13-17 contrast spiritual and worldly wisdom? Can you distinguish the difference? How can you pray for those who seek only worldly wisdom?
An apostle is one sent out by God to give His message. When Jesus Christ appeared to Paul and commissioned him to go out, to whom was he being sent and what was his message according to Acts 26:13-18? Paul often prayed for people he had never met. Is there a specific group of people that God has asked you to pray for? What do you pray?
To learn more, see Apostle under Dig into Words.
Nancy J. Baker