Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do Your Prayers have an Expiration Date?

I asked my friend, George Lawson, to write a special guest post based off a message he preached from Colossians 1:9-14 on prayer. Here is what he wrote:

"A biblical study of prayer is an excruciating exercise. Recently the Youth of BCLR have been considering Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers (Col. 1:9-14), and while it has been a joyfully rich and rewarding study, it has also been a painfully difficult and sorrowful one. Because if we are brutally honest with ourselves…

1) We don’t pray and
2) When we do pray, we don’t pray biblically.

In contrast to our infrequency, Paul’s prayers were constant. And in contrast to our earthbound wish lists the fresh breezes of eternity blew through Paul’s prayers.

His prayers did not have an “expiration date” on them. They were not “best if used by a certain date” but prayers that were fit for eternity. I am in no way advocating that all things great and small should not be brought to the Lord. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6). But doesn’t it say something about us if we are consumed by the immediate?

When our present temporary comforts and desires fill our prayers, we are not praying as the apostle models for us. When was the last time you were burdened to be:
- Fruitful in every good work
- Increasing in the knowledge of God
- Strengthened with all might for steadfastness and patience
- Joyously Thankful for the Father qualifying you, delivering you, and transferring you to the Kingdom of His beloved Son?

Chances are these lofty requests don’t make it to the prayer list for yourself, or for others.
D.A. Carson, in his helpful book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, says this…

“To restrict ourselves for a moment to the petitions in the prayers of Paul, we must ask ourselves how far the petitions we commonly present to God are in line with what Paul prays for. Suppose, for example, that 80 to 90 percent of our petitions ask God for good health, recovery from illness, safety on the road, a good job, success in exams, the emotional needs of our children, success in or mortgage application, and much more of the same. How much of Paul’s praying revolves around equivalent items? If the center of our praying is far removed from the center of Paul’s praying, then even our very praying may serve as a wretched testimony to the remarkable success of the processes of paganization in our life and thought” (pp. 96-97).

Are your prayers marked with an expiration date? Will they soon spoil if not consumed immediately? Let me encourage you to align your prayers with eternity. A thousand years from now your health and wealth and success won’t matter. What will matter is the fruit you bore for God, the knowledge you gained of God, the character that was strengthened by God, and the joyous thanksgiving you offered to God. One day this present life will be swallowed up by eternity and so will our prayers, if they have an expiration date.

In Christ Alone,
Pastor George

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