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1. Seeing Prayer from the Clouds

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Thought to Cherish

“We have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please Him in all respects.” Colossians 1:9b-10a (NET)

A Walk in the Clouds—what does this title suggest? As I began to read Colossians, I was struck by the thought that this book views everything from a heavenly perspective rather than being bound by what can be seen from the earth. We are told to “Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). This letter helps us focus on God’s viewpoint and gives us an opportunity to change our lives accordingly. As you read it, consider God’s view “from the clouds.”

Day One Study

Is there a current Christian leader whom you admire but have never met? Perhaps your mind runs to a preacher such as Billy Graham or Chuck Swindoll. As a woman you may think of someone like Ann Graham Lotz or a missionary with whose story you are familiar.

Imagine walking to your mailbox this afternoon, expecting the usual array of bills and trash mail. As you look through the pieces, you are surprised to see a letter addressed to you from this leader. Although you anticipate a printed solicitation letter, your curiosity overwhelms you and you tear the envelope open quickly. There before your eyes is a personal hand-written letter. The author mentions the reports she has heard of your faithfulness to Christ and gives you encouragement as a believer. Despite having never met you, she has put you on her prayer list.

I imagine that you would read every word before laying it down, only to pick it up and reread it over and over in the course of time!

The first-century believers in Colossae must have had similar feelings as they met to hear this letter read. Put yourself in their places as you sit down and read as if you have never read it before!

Read the entire letter at one sitting, if at all possible. Would you put down your hypothetical letter before finishing it?

1. What struck you personally as you read and why?

Digging for Diamonds: Do an overview and book chart of Colossians. Choose a theme, key verse, and title. What are the themes of the various chapters? This will be your optional assignment for the entire week.

2. Responding to God: What struggles will you likely face as you commit to spend time with God each day during this study? Write a prayer telling God of your desire to prioritize each day and asking for the power and discipline you need in order to say no to less important things.

Day Two Study

Go back through the entire book of Colossians. If you have time, read it carefully; if not, skim through it.

1. Jot down some of the main topics.

2. Why might these be subjects that the authors chose to mention?

3. Responding to God: Write a prayer focusing on your need for God to speak to you through this study. Ask Him to meet you through His Word each day.

Day Three Study

Read Colossians 1:1-2.

1. Who wrote this letter? How are they described?

The recipients may be called “brothers” or “brethren” in your translation, but there is much evidence in non-biblical writings that this word could be used for “brothers and sisters.”1

2. How are the brothers and sisters in Colossae described?

Dr. F. F. Bruce tell us that “the word ‘saints’ marks them out as God’s holy people, chosen and set apart by him for himself.” 2

3. How would you explain the adjective “faithful”? In what ways can faithfulness be evidenced or seen?

4. Read the following verses about the authors, commenting on the ways you see them as models of faithfulness and what it means to be set apart unto God.

a. Acts 21:10-14

b. 2 Cor. 11:23-33

c. Phil. 2:19-22

d. 1 Thess. 3:1-2, 6

e. 2 Tim. 3:10-12

f. 2 Tim. 4:7, 8

5. Responding to God: Spend time evaluating yourself in the light of what you have seen about being a faithful saint. Write down what God shows you as you listen to His voice through His Word and in silence before Him.

Day Four Study

Read Colossians 1:3-8.

1. What specifics about the Colossians made the authors grateful for them?

2. Colossians 1:6 says the gospel had been bearing fruit and growing among the Colossians. What fruit has just been described in vv. 4-5?

3. Sharing question: How well can others see that same kind of fruit in your life? In what specific ways can they see it?

4. What was the relationship between the authors and the Colossians, for whom they prayed? (See Col. 1:7, 8; 2:1.) How might that have made you feel if you were one of the Colossians?

5. Sharing question: Who is on your prayer list outside of your family and personal friends? For whose ministries are you praying? Who can you add to your prayer list in that category?

6. Responding to God: Write a prayer of thanksgiving for someone outside of your immediate circle of friends and family. Thank God in specific ways for him or her and for the fruit you see in her/his life.

Day Five Study

Read Colossians 1:9-14.

1. What do you learn about the authors’ prayer lives from 1:3-14?

2. What supplications (specific requests) did they make for the Colossians?

3. Sharing question: Which part of this prayer strikes you as a request that you need for yourself? Why? You may want to write down this part of Paul’s prayer on your card as your prayer request for your small group this week.

4. Sharing question: Think of a friend or family member who is dealing with a trial or a sin. Revealing only the situation and not the person’s identity, choose a part of this prayer in 1:9-14 to pray for her /him. How does it fit the situation?

5. Responding to God: Write a prayer of both thanksgiving and supplication for that person (#20) based upon the authors’ prayer in 1:3-14.

Prayer Stories

Rather than one story this week, I have asked some women to share their methods for organizing their prayer requests. If you have trouble with a myriad of requests, you may want to try various methods until you find what works for you, as Kay H. did.

Kay H’s method

After many years I have finally found something that works for me. I've tried many different methods, including notebooks, note cards, and just trying to remember requests without having a list. That last one worked especially poorly for me, but even having a notebook or note cards was frustrating because I receive so many requests via email or phone conversations and I had trouble keeping everything together in a nice, organized way. Now I use the personal prayer list option included in the Logos Bible Software package. I can type in prayer requests or, more often the case, cut and paste from email. For each request, I can schedule the start and (optional) end date, as well as how often I want the request to repeat. When the prayer is answered, there's a place to put that information in, too. Another benefit is that I use this software for my daily Bible reading too, so I know I'll look at it at least once each day. I assume many Bible software packages have a similar prayer list function, so it might be worth looking into even for people who do not have this particular software package. I guess something similar could be generated using MS Word or Excel.

Becky’s method

I like to pray from written material, since this keeps my mind from wandering so much. Of course, I have to guard against just praying by rote. First, there are several prayers from the Book of Common Prayer that I routinely use (those for the country, president, legislatures, and courts, and the military). I add names to these. I also use the church’s missionary calendar, and the list of elders and ministers and directors. There are some other missionaries and mission agencies that I have cards about, and a prayer list of Kazak couples. I have also written a list of family, friends, members of groups I am in, other missionaries, things God has put on my heart to pray for, sick people, etc. Also, many of these groups email requests to one another. Finally, I have committed to pray 50 times a year for a list of 50 men (of my choice) as part of a prayer challenge.

Carri’s method

If we take the time to pray for others it can really make a difference in their lives and our own lives. It is such a blessing to hear others tell you about their answer to prayer and know that your prayers helped to bring about that praise. Christians are all part of God’s family and in His Word, He asks us to carry each other’s burdens and support one another in brotherly love. By praying for others we are fulfilling the Lord’s will for our lives and serving others as He has asked us to do.

I have found that one of my best ways to pray for everyone on my prayer list is to take a walk and began to pray to the Father and ask him who he would have me pray for during that time. Walking calms me down and keeps me quiet before the Lord, so that I don’t have all the distractions of home in front of me. It has really become a big part of my prayer time. He always lays several people on my heart and I began to pray for them. I lift them up to Him and pray for His will to be done in their lives. I also pray their specific prayer requests to Him and ask that they be done in Jesus’ name.

I also try to take other quiet times throughout the day to hear the Lord’s voice in directing me whom to pray for. I have found if the TV or radio is on all day I don’t focus on the Lord enough. I make myself turn them off so I can have that quiet time and pray for others. I think we all need a little more quiet time in our busy days. If you are not careful, you can fill your mind with noise and junk all day long and never even realize it. In doing this, you will miss out on that small still voice from the Lord that is calling you to communicate with Him.

Lastly, I have been known to pray for others while waiting in lines at the grocery store, stop lights etc. Instead of getting frustrated having to wait, a lot of times I will use that time to talk with the Lord and pray for others. I don’t think the Lord expects you to sit down for an hour or more each morning and get all your prayers out to Him for the day. I think He prefers us to talk with Him all throughout the day and continually have Him on our hearts. Plus, He may lay someone on your heart at that very moment to pray for because they need your prayers right then. It is so neat to find out later that that the person you were praying for was in a bad situation, but then everything worked out. I have had that happen many times and what a blessing that was to me.

We have to do our part and lift each other up to the Lord. We will all be blessed by fulfilling this service to others. It’s so exciting to see the Lord move in their lives and know that you helped to bring about that answer to prayer for them. Keep up the good work and keep on praying for others!!

Christy’s method

I bought a three ring binder and put dividers in it. I labeled the dividers as -personal request -prayer for family -prayer for friends -prayer for the lost -prayer for the country, world, leaders, etc.

I would not pray for all categories every day, but I would rotate through them. On the paper I would write the request and the date I began to pray. Then when it was answered, I would draw one light line through the request (so I could still read it) and write the date it was answered.

1 NET Bible: New English Translation, Note 3 (Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. or 2159.

2 F.F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), 39.

Related Topics: Prayer

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