Colossians 4, 2 - 4
Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful. Be sure to pray that God will make a way for us to spread his message and explain the mystery about Christ, even though I am in jail for doing this. Please pray that I will make the message as clear as possible.
Who prays, finds friends
Who prays overcomes loneliness
Who prays expects God's wonders
Paul writes to the "Colossians". These were not huge heavyweight people with dress size XXL. They were not giants. They were no giants in faith. These Christians lived in what is today Turkey, in the city of Colossae. Paul writes to this Christian.
In the small text passage of today's sermon, I see three things which are important to us today:
First: Praying changes. Who is praying, will find friends!
Paul is writing from prison. Prison always means to be alone. Cut off from his environment. There are friends important. People, who come and visit in the Jail. Keep the contact. Once I was a volunteer probation officer. That's why I know that.
Paul has such people near him, for example Epaphras. The man with the strange name is a citizen of Colossae. The two men talk about their faith, about their experiences, about what touched them.
Paul hears how the Christians in Colossae are being. He hears about the trouble of that Christian. So he can give lots of good advice on how to handle their problems with the new and strange religious ideas and practices. He shows them ways to grow in faith. He explains who Christ is. Paul is a coach for this parish. He talks to them like he would talk to good friends.
He says something what is very important: Always talk to God! Do not stop that. Never stop praying and thanking God! Stay in conversation with God. Talk to him like to a friend.
Talk to God like a friend! - Moses, the great old man of God, could do that. In Exodus 33:11, the Bible says:
“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
God and Moses are familiar with each other as friends are familiar with each other. Friends are people you trust. To which one you can say anything. Things you does not tell everybody else. It is important that you have friends! Somebody, we can ask for his moral and practical support. Someone you can off-load your worries!
So we should talk with God! Paul says to the Christian: it is necessarily to speak with each other. That we pray together. And talk to God. Tell HIM everything. It is not enough to give you some good advice. You still have to talk with God! HE listens to you. And HE will answering, sure! If God spoke to Moses as with a friend, then you may expect that also. You should expect everything from God!
Second: Praying changes. Who prays overcomes loneliness.
Paul writes at the end of the letter: I´m sending you Tychicus with this letter. Read this letter in the parish of Collosea and Laodicea, too. - Tychicus is also one of Paul´s friends.
Paul writes: please pray also for me. Because I need your prayers. Talk to God, including me and my situation. Paul asks Christians who are living far away to remember him. Do you have friends who are praying for you? Or are you such an “XXL-Christian” who don´t need intercession?
Paul knew the Colossians only about reporting. He had never visited them. He had only heard of these Christians. But in his mind he is connected with these people. He would like to visit her once - but the doors are closed.
Paul is doing something very clever! He is building a network of intercession. He asks these Christians (and he does not know personally this people) to pray for him and what he needs.
Paul is not getting bored in Jail. He is not lying on the bed staring at the ceiling and asking how he should get around the boring day again. Nothing is going on in his jail. He makes it better: he writes to his parish far away. He prays for them, he is waiting for the visit of his friends. He remains in conversation with God and with others.
Boredom is a form of loneliness. A very old lady in a nursing home once told me: I'm very often alone, but never lonely! God is here.
He who can pray, who can fold his hands for other people - he will not be lonesome. He is getting in touch, in conversation with God. It feels good to fold your hands and pray! Also for people I personally do not know. Because God knows them all I say to him. Why we do not pray for all the politicians we know from TV? Or why we don´t pray for all the stars we read and hear about. I am sure: God is hearing us. He loves people, who are praying and intercession for other people.
Third: Praying changes. Who is praying expects God's miracles
Paul hopes God will do a miracle. He hopes for an open door for the gospel. He asks for many opportunities to bring the message of Jesus Christ to somebody else. Please pray - he writes - that I can preach this message as clearly as possible.
This is of course the best request all pastors and preachers can do! To implore the parish that there are many opportunities to preach the word of God to anybody else. Not only on Sunday in the pulpit. And: imploring to proclaim the gospel so that it will be really understood. This is a long-lasting success for us Christians.
But not only who preaches from the pulpit should be understood. Every Christian who wants to tell somebody about his faith in Jesus Christ needs this prayer.
It is not just about the clear of what I say, but also about the clarity of the content.
Paul´s requesting to Got was answered. God had opened a door for him. I don´t know if it was an open door at prison. But his letter became an open door! This letter had been read in the far Colossae. And in the neighboring communities, too. This letter was constantly being going on. This letter, it´s God´s word (!), remained Christians until today. Since then, Christians around the world and at all times have been able to read what Paul was said about.
I want to explain that with a few statements Paul says:
“Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen. Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen. (Chap. 1:15/16)
HE is the head of his body, which is the church. (Chap. 1:18)
God wiped out all the charges that were against us for disobeying the law of Mose. He took them away and nailed them to the Cross. (Chap. 2:14)
All wisdom and knowledge are hidden away in Jesus Christ. (Chap. 2:3)
Think about what is up there – in heaven -, not about what is here on earth. (Chap. 3:2)
Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. .. Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him.” (Chap. 3:16/17)
The letter to the Colossians is being worth to be read. It is worth to pray for anybody. Do not stop praying and thanking God! Do not stop praying for friends and other people. Trust in God. HE is hearing you. Maybe your intercession will not be answered at the way you like, but the almighty God always helps us and others in the way, HE will do. Amen.