Monday mornings always seem to present a bit of a “prayer challenge” for me. As I look back over the worship and ministry of the weekend, there are demonstrations of God’s faithfulness and movements of God’s Spirit for which I want to give thanks. Then there are individuals within my church family and my community for whom I’ve been praying and that I want to continue lifting into God’s presence. And almost inevitably, there are new needs of which I’ve been made aware on Sunday morning: someone’s friend has been injured and is in the hospital; someone connected to our church family has suffered loss. In the end, I’ve got a long “litany of intercession” to lay at the Lord’s feet.
In offering these prayers, I try to remember what I privilege it is to be invited into people’s lives in a way that allows me to share in both their joys and struggles. And I often ask God to give me not only the kind of compassion that cares genuinely about each need but also the kind of faith that trusts authentically in His ability to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). But I also wonder if somewhere amid the requests for healing and comfort I’m missing something important.
In the epistle lesson from today’s Daily Office, the apostle Paul prays for his friends in Colossae. And while I feel confident that Paul did pray over their illnesses and losses, his main concern seems to lie elsewhere:
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12)
What might happen if my prayers, like Paul’s, focused a little less on the “presenting need” and a little more on the “growth in Christ” that meets that need? And what might happen if our prayers as a church focused more growing our knowledge of Jesus, deepening our faith in Him, and expanding our engagement in His mission?
May it be our privilege today to pray for others, asking that the fullness of God’s shalom will grow in their hearts and lives.