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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:1–14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NRSV)

Whether or not prayer influence or changes God is a theological debate for the ages. One’s perspective on this depends on whether one believes that God is unchanging and has all of human history planned out already or is open to the possibility that God does in fact change and adapt according to human interactions.

However we resolve this mystery—or choose to leave it unresolved—one thing is clear: prayer does change us. Contemplating the depiction of Paul praying without ceasing for the Colossians suggests at least two ways that this is true.

First, the Colossians were no doubt encouraged by this support. Having recently completed a major project, I took some time to think through and name the people who helped make my accomplishment possible. It was humbling and uplifting to consider the many ways I was supported in my endeavor. Indeed, it helped me realize that it wasn’t my accomplishment alone; it was in a real sense our accomplishment.

Second, prayer affects not only the people prayed for but also the person doing the praying. Praying for other people draws us out of our self-centered bubbles and stretches us to think of others as much as we think of ourselves. In our culture that elevates individualism and rewards self-interest, this is a powerful spiritual corrective.

As you ponder these things today, consider ways in which you have been supported by the prayers of others and the ways in which praying for others might be transforming for you.

Thank you, God, for the saints who surround me and lift me up with their prayers. Help me to be selfless in my own prayer life and spend time praying for others. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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