The Phenomenal Scope of Prayer
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…” (Colossians 1:3 NIV)
We have to understand the phenomenal scope of prayer and what prayer can accomplish if we pray from our hearts, in faith believing that we are actually having a face-to-face audience with God. We can glimpse this in the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossian church—a church he did not establish and had never even visited.
Paul began his letter by telling the Colossians that he always thanked God when he prayed for them, because he had heard such good things about them. This is contrary to what most people would do if they heard of someone’s faith and their love for the body of Christ. Many of us would feel that if they were doing well, we wouldn’t have to pray for them; but Paul said, “No, now I really pray for them.” So we pray, not only for people in trouble, but for all Christians everywhere. And it’s not just throwing up prayers, but focusing in and realizing that I am now talking with the God of the universe, and I have his ear, and he’s the one who has prompted me to pray for this person or for this group of people. The connotation here is one of very intentional prayer.
So Paul was in a face-to-face audience with the God of the universe, feeling prompted to pray for this church, though he had never been to Colossae. How could he pray for them so fervently without knowing them personally? God is so good, that we don’t have to know all the names of a group of people in order to lift them before God’s throne. We can just pray, and God will apply the blessing. “Well,” someone may ask, “how did Paul pray without having details of the individual believers’ lives?” He must have prayed, “Oh God, bless the church at Colossae! I don’t know the names of all of the believers there, but you know them individually, Lord!”
Sometimes we’re held back by our reluctance to pray unless we have all of the specifics about a person or their particular situation, but we have a God who is open to our prayers as we come face-to-face with him and call on him, even for folks we don’t know! This means that we can pray for a congregation in Africa, or for someone in Detroit, Michigan, and we don’t even have to know their names. Paul was doing it all the time for a church he had never visited! Don’t you think God knew the name of every person in Colossae? Yes, and he knows the names and situations of the people he places on our hearts as well.
That’s the phenomenal scope of prayer!
Read Colossians 1:1-8.