Paul knew the importance of strategic prayer in his own life and the lives of other. And he knew what to pray for. His prayers focused on spiritual issues. He knew that if those he was praying for were spiritually mature, they could handle anything. We, however, sometimes have it backward. We pray about physical matters, not realizing that the real battles are fought in the spiritual realm, not the physical. That’s why Paul stated that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). That’s also why Paul urged believers to take up the full spiritual armor of God (verse 13).
How can your prayers impact the lives of others? First, realize you may be the only one praying for a specific person. If this is the case, then your prayers to God for that individual become extremely important.
Also realize that your impact is limited only by the length of your prayer list. Just think about how many people are drawn into the plan of God as you include them in your prayers. Your life can touch and impact countless other lives when you pray. You can do what Paul did, according to Colossians 1:9-12:
- Ask God to help others know what He wants them to do with their lives (verse 9).
- Ask God to give others a desire for a deeper spiritual understanding (verse 9)
- Ask God to help others live life in a way that pleases Him (verse 10).
- Ask God to help others understand their spiritual gifts and exhibit the fruit of ministry (verse 10). Ask God to give others strength to endure life’s trials (verse 11).
- Ask God to give others patience when dealing with trying people (verse 11).
- Ask God to fill others with joyful thanks as they live for Him (verse 12).
Elsewhere in the New Testament we see other ways Paul prayed for people and had an influence on them:
- He prayed for their purity (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
- He prayed for righteous living that would produce fruit that would glorify God (Philippians 1:11).
- He prayed that they would experience the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19). He prayed that they would be united in spirit with one another (Romans 15:5).
When we pray for others, we should ask God to help them grow spiritually mature. Without spiritual maturity, people will crumble at the first signs of adversity. As we just noted, Paul prayed for maturity for his friends at Colossae (1:9-12).
As we pray for the maturity of others, as Paul did, we should also pray for our own strength and power. What does Paul say this power will enable us to do? It’s not the kind of power that enables you to do exceptional feats of strength. Its spiritual power that enables you to have “great endurance and patience… joyfully giving thanks to the Father” (verse 11). Your influence can’t help but be felt if you have…
- the endurance to cope with difficult circumstances.
- the patience to live and function around difficult people.
- the joy to respond to all forms of trials with thankfulness.
Wow—now that’s spiritual maturity!
Question to Consider:
Do you pray more often for the physical and circumstantial comforts of others (and yourself!) or for the spiritual growth and maturity that God desires?
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