When praying, as we're searching for the right words to say, sometimes we default to empty cliches or repetition. And in the process, our effort to connect with the living God falls flat. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents his second message in a brand new study through Paul's letter to the Colossians. During the next half hour, we'll discover some fresh ways to truly express what's heavy on our hearts, and in fact, to find joy in it.
We're in Colossians chapter one. Chuck titled today's message, A Prayer Worth Remembering and Modeling. Even though I don't know most of you personally, first, I'm confident that you pray. You are a person that believes in prayer. Second thing I know about you is that when you pray, you remember those you love, those you know well. Because you know them well, you can pray specifically for them.
Both are commendable. These are great habits to cultivate. The habit of prayer for those you know and those you love. Now there's another side to all of this you may not have fought up before, which Paul reminds us of when we come to the first chapter of Colossians verses 9 through 14, and that is praying for people you don't know, people you have never met. First, we are to pray for others in this category continually.
Now why would I say that? Look at your Bible. Colossians 1-9, so we have not stopped praying for you.
That's where I get the word continually. Pray for others continually. Keep in mind, verse 9 says, we ask God to give you complete knowledge.
So he's praying for the Colossians that they will have discernment to cut through all the deception and realize that they're being led astray by these false teachers. Can I give you a couple of three tips about false teachers? I want to warn you here. Here are my warnings. Number one, watch out for any teacher or ministry who encourages exclusivity.
We are the exclusive group. Only at this church will you hear the truth. That's a false ministry.
Watch out for people like that. Here's another one. Guard against those who regularly criticize good teachers and reliable ministries. If the one you've been following regularly criticizes sound teachers and strong churches, you're following the wrong individual. Here's the third. If the one you are following promotes himself or herself, in any way you're following the wrong leader.
I've never seen a false teacher who was not self-serving. Often there is a touch of arrogance and unteachability. That's the first part. Pray continually for those you've not met.
Here's the second. Verses 11 and 12 pray for their strength. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so that you will have all the endurance and patience you need. Part of being strengthened in God's power is the ability to cultivate endurance and patience. Let me break those words apart. Endurance is from an interesting Greek word, hupomone.
H-U-P-O-M-O-N-E. From hupo means under, mone means to abide. It's the idea of holding up under, bearing up under, and it often has in mind adverse circumstances. As you get strength from the Lord, and I'm praying that you will, you will be able to hold up against adverse circumstances that will come, and invariably they will come. And second, you will be a person of patience. See the word?
Right there in verse 11 that you will have all endurance and patience. This is a long word, macrothumia. Macro meaning long.
Thumia, we get our word thermometer from it. It's the idea of long suffering, being able to endure long heated seasons. And in this case, macrothumia usually has in mind patience with difficult people. So endurance has in mind adverse circumstances that you'll be able to hold up and patience have to do, has to do with dealing with people that are difficult. And I can testify of the two, the latter is the more difficult.
Dealing with adverse circumstances is hard enough. Dealing with difficult, sometimes impossible people is a real drain on your patience. And here he says, may you have the kind of patience that you need. And look at what he adds, may you be filled with joy. Aren't you glad he added that?
This is wonderful. In the process of dealing with people that are difficult in situations that are adverse, don't get negative. Don't become sour. William Barkley writes it this way as he expands the meaning of patience. It's basic meaning is patience with people. It is the quality of mind and heart which enables us to bear with people that they're, to so bear with people that their unpleasantness and maliciousness and cruelty will never drive us to bitterness. That their unteachableness will never drive us to despair. That their folly will never drive us to irritation.
And that their unloveliness will never alter our love. The Christian's fortitude in events and patience with people must be indestructible. That's the kind of fortitude we are to pray for others.
And while we're at it, pray for it for ourselves. That they might be filled with joy. And there's one more, always thanking the Father. By the way, this seemed like a long sentence, doesn't it? I mean from the start, I've already taken a breath. You'll be interested to know that in the Greek language, this one sentence that starts at verse 9 goes through 218. It's 218 words before there's a period. That's what I call a sentence.
This baby is a long sentence and we're stopping in the middle of his sentence, even though there's a period that appears in the English text. He's going on and on. Now he's adding an attitude of gratitude.
How important. You begin to see why this is such a great prayer to remember and to model. Keep it in mind, always thanking the Father with an attitude of gratitude in adverse circumstances and among difficult people. Well, how can you keep doing that?
How come you don't start to wear thin? Well, to quote Dr. John Mitchell, read your Bible repeatedly. When you read your Bible, you will begin to see it repeatedly refers to the same things.
And what is that? Look at verse 12 as it continues, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people who live in the light.
That's how there can be joy. You've inherited the light and you're surrounded by people that live in darkness. Haven't you noticed? Look at the faces of all the newscasters.
They look like Eeyore. Well, we have more bad news today about the president and about his cabinet and about what's going on in decisions that are being made in the White House. Oh, really?
Yeah. Now on top of that, we have bad weather. We need a report that's coming from the Northeast and it's going to spread down. And while we're there, we've got a bad plague that's come in.
There's a mosquito on the loose. You start going, oh man, I'm surrounded by all this bad news. Why do you respond like that?
You're an inheritor of the light. Some of you know Fox News better than you know your Bible. You know the people that bring the broadcast better than you know the people of the scriptures. No wonder you're so disheartened.
No wonder you're so downcast. I had two different men after the first service this morning come in tears. I asked their permission. I don't know their names, so they said, you're sure you're free to tell?
One man says, we just discovered that my wife has MS. And on top of that, any day now I'm going to lose my job. He said, I had no idea when I dressed for church this morning that I'd be hearing what you're talking about. He said, you are talking to me. The other man had another story that was just as sad and he could hardly finish his sentence. As he said to me, I wondered when I was getting up this morning, why even bother to go to church?
What could there possibly be that could lift my head above the water of where I am? And he described it and he just started to sob. He said, I had no idea that the Bible would address something like that. This is real stuff, folks.
This is real life. This isn't some kind of saintly, pious prayer that you learn and then you quote it. I've got a good friend who told me when he heard I was going to teach Colossians, he said, oh, it's my favorite book. In fact, he said, you will come across as you teach it, a prayer chapter one, verses nine to 14. We're there now.
This was before I'd started. He said, I want you to know, Chuck, I pray that for you. When I go through that, I can just hear him saying that.
What a great thing to read. I'm reading his prayer list on my behalf. To know that he cares enough that he would pray like this. When you begin to pray like this, you'll begin to operate more in the light and the darkness will not enshroud you and deepen and darken your spirit. That you may be filled with joy, filled with joy, with an attitude of gratitude, always thanking the Father since he has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people who live in the light. Now, some of you read that and you think, yes, well, it's going to be in heaven. Stop. That has nothing to do with heaven.
It's now. We are complete in Christ. And with Christ, and with Christ, you get you get all of this. We are those who have inherited and now live in the light. We live in it. Doesn't say we will live in it. We now live in it. This is for us. And then that little connective four explains what we have just read. It says, in effect, because, or let me explain, 13 and 14 turns the prayer into praise. Look, for yourself.
How can I live in the light? Because he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness. He has done that. He has transferred us into the kingdom of his dear son.
What about his son? Oh, he purchased our freedom. He forgave our sins.
How great is that? Look at the change in pronouns from you and you and you all the way through verses nine through 12. He now says us. He's rescued us. So Paul's in the group.
Epaphras is in the group. All of us in the room who know the Lord Jesus have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his dear son. He's purchased our freedom. You enslaved to some addiction. You've been emancipated. You have been emancipated.
Maybe you didn't even know it. Like so many of the slaves toward the end of the Civil War, the emancipated from them from the president came years before it was enacted or before they acted on it. I mean, you think the plantation owners wanted those slaves to know they were emancipated?
Not on your life. Well, there are people who will keep you under bondage. And Paul is setting us free. He said, well, we've been rescued. We've been emancipated. We've been given our freedom.
It's been purchased for us where? On the cross, where he who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. You have the righteousness of God. You are chapter 2 verse 10 complete in Christ.
He forgave your sins. I'm going to surprise you with a statement. Every once in a while I like doing it.
I'm going to surprise you with a statement. Every once in a while I like doing that. You don't have to sin. You sin because you want to.
You like to. As a good friend of mine, Leroy Iams with the Navigators for years used to say, we sin because we have a quiet secret delight in sinning. We love to sin. There's a satisfaction in it.
Not all, but in much of it. But you know what? You've been freed from that power. Read Romans 6.
You've been delivered from that authority. Sin no longer has reign over you. You choose to sin, but you don't have to if you're in Christ. Now, if you're not in Christ, you can't help it.
You're woefully addicted and you're not freed from it. Even though he has provided this forgiveness, you still operate as though it'll never be true for you. But you must come to Christ so that you can enjoy this spiritual emancipation.
Okay? Let me wrap it up by giving you three simple tips as it relates to praying for others. Let's kind of wrap it up in these simple words that I hope you won't forget. First, let's be faithful. Let's be faithful.
Let's do this continually. Let's be sure that a day doesn't pass without our praying for someone we don't know. Of course, you're going to be praying for people you do know and love.
I'm confident you do that. But now I'm talking from this passage to pray for those you've never met. Be faithful. Stay at it. Now, here's the second. Let's be specific.
Paul has been specific. I pray for your knowledge that you will know the will of God. I pray for your strength, your endurance, your patience through hard times and difficult people. I pray for your joy. I pray for an attitude of gratitude. I pray that you will live as if you are indeed in fact free because you are.
You've been rescued. Be specific. If there's anything I would love to change in most Christian's prayer, it's to get rid of the cliches. You hear them all the time.
Hear a couple of them. Dear Lord, lead, guide, and direct us. You've already said lead, so you don't need to add guide or direct. They're the same thing, but you learn in Sunday school to lead, guide, and direct when you pray. Get rid of one of the three and make a difference.
Lord, guide us and then name the way you need him to guide you specifically. Here's another one. Bless us. What in the world does that mean? Or bless the missionaries.
Could you name something specific? How about Frank and Shirley who are struggling to learn the language where they are? And I pray that you'll give them facility in learning that language that is difficult for them. I pray right now for Bill and Marsha's two children that are sick and my heart goes out to them and I pray that you would somehow intervene and bring strength and hope and healing beyond the sickness. I pray, Lord, for my son who's away at college.
I'm concerned about the influence that's going on around him and I'm not there to talk about it with him and I know that he's at a distance and I don't know what temptations he's facing. I pray that you give him strength to withstand that specific prayer. I love the way the late Howie Hendrix used to put it, guard against the slimy ooze of indefiniteness.
We've got to have a direct plan. Bless us. I think God must lean over heaven and go, how? How exactly would you like to be blessed?
Tell me. I answer specific prayer. Bless says nothing.
Unless, of course, you've named it. Let's be specific when we pray. Here's a third. Let's be sure. Let's be sure. See the change in pronouns? He's rescued us. He's transferred us.
I'm confident of that. Paul writes, rescued, transferred. He's freed us. He's forgiven us. You don't have to pray to be forgiven. You're forgiven.
Act like it. You don't have to say, Lord, free me from this sin. You're freed from it. Better prayer would be, Lord, keep me from loving it, from like doing it. Guard me, Lord, because I'm given to anger.
And when I'm angry, I'm enraged and I lose control. And, Lord, I'm not above doing something dangerous. Stop that in me, Lord. Let's pray with assurance.
Paul is praying and he includes himself. And I urge you to pray and not to forget yourself. Let me say one final word. I mean it.
Some of you are not here in this passage because you've never trusted Christ. Well, I know, I know you're not out killing people. I know you're paying your taxes.
Well, most of them. And, and you're, you're getting along as best you can. And you're a good neighbor.
I know that. You're holding down jobs the best you can. And maybe between jobs or you're, you're, you're trying to be patient and all, but you've never come to the cross. You've never trusted Jesus. Just a simple prayer, Lord, God, I acknowledge that I am distant from you. I hang around Christians, but I'm not one.
I've even learned the language of some, but I'm, I'm a long ways from your dictionary. You and I are light years apart and I want to be close. I want to be in your family. So right now I claim Christ as my savior. I ask you to make that happen right now. Let's bow together.
Will you please do that with me? Now you talk about praying for others. Pray for someone who may be listening right now, who doesn't know Christ. Offer that prayer.
And I joined my brothers and sisters today, dear father. And I ask that you would, by your grace, reach into the heart of those who have been disillusioned. Some have even been turned off by toxic religion.
Others have become so self-centered that they, they, they're not even aware of how arrogant they become. And I, I pray that you'd break them. Break them down, bring them to their knees, make them restless through the night, take away their sleep.
Trouble them with the reality that they are distant from you. So that they might come to realize that there is hope only in the Lord Jesus Christ. And give us our father, we pray through all of this, a joy that is contagious. Deliver us from that long face, pious, a nonsensical look of religion, so that we become for you great advertisements of the real thing in a world that has lost its way. Speak to specific hearts today in this message that individuals may trust in your son as Savior. I ask it in the name of our risen Lord Jesus Christ. And everybody said, Amen. Amen.
This is Insight for Living. Chuck Swindoll titled this section of Colossians, A Prayer Worth Remembering and Modeling. And to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. You often hear me reference the Searching the Scriptures study notes, and we encourage you to dig deeper into Paul's letter to the Colossians by using this free resource.
You set the pace. You can go as deep as you like. To interact with the study notes online or to download the free PDF document, go to insight.org slash studies. One of your fellow listeners said, I've read the Bible from cover to cover once and still read scripture every day. But while listening to Chuck's series, I'm also using the STS guide. I also purchased Chuck's book on this subject.
And then this listener from Tennessee added, I even reference maps now, which is an absolute first. The Bible has become more than just an ideal to follow, but has come alive to me. Well, you'll find the Searching the Scriptures study notes at insight.org slash studies. And to purchase Chuck's commentary on Colossians, go to insight.org slash offer. Finally, remember when you give a donation, you're empowering us to provide a constant source of Bible teaching for you and for countless others who've come to rely on Chuck as well. So thanks for doing your part in making these daily programs possible. To give a donation right now, call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. You can also give a gift today by going online to insight.org.
Join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll describes what it means to crown Christ as Lord of all right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message of prayer worth remembering and modeling was copyrighted in 2014 and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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