Paul knew the importance of strategic prayer in his own life and the lives of others. 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). And when that’s been done, Paul says to pray always… for all the saints (verse 18).
Your prayers to God for believers and unbelievers are extremely important. So do what Paul did based on 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 (Colossians 1:9-12).
As we pray for the maturity of others, as Paul did, we should also pray for our own strength and power. It's spiritual power that enables us to have "great endurance and patience… joyfully giving thanks to the Father" (verse 11). Your influence can’t help but be felt if you trust the Lord through this heartfelt prayer for others. Now that’s spiritual maturity!
Dear Lord, help us to have hearts for others. Give us strength to have the endurance through difficult circumstances, the patience to live and function around difficult people, and the joy to respond well in all forms of trials. We pray for an attitude of thankfulness and humility as we pray for those around us.
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?
Pray faithfully for others—including your enemies (Matt. 5:44). Pray always (Ephesians 6:18), enjoying God’s constant presence (Joshua 1:9).