July 8, 2021
Dale M. Gilbert
Clergy, Pleasant View United Methodist Church
Clinch Mountain District
2 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
I saw it modeled for me during my childhood. My parents led us in prayer in the morning and again at bedtime. Both parents would pray about their dreams and hopes for their two boys. Though many years have passed, those prayers still echo in my memories.
Today, it’s my turn. I pray for my own boys, and I lift up my dreams and hopes for them. Now, as the grandfather of two precious grandchildren, I remember them, too, in my prayers and ask God’s guidance and blessings on their lives.
The Apostle Paul, who considered himself a father in the faith to so many churches and Christians, reveals his heart in this scripture passage. “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you.”
Paul prayed for the Christians in Colossae and in Laodicea. He prayed specifically that God would provide them with what they needed for their Christian pilgrimage.
He prayed for their encouragement. I suspect Paul had known some times of encouragement himself. A letter arrived at the right moment. A surprise visitor showed up. A usually quiet person spoke up. These things encourage us all.
He prayed for their unity. After 40+ years of serving the Church, I know first-hand how important it is to stand together. “We are not divided, all one body, we,” says one of our old hymns. Unity sometimes seems elusive, but we must necessarily be relevant in a world that needs Jesus.
He prayed for their enlightenment. He understood that there would always be the Gnostics around, those who would claim special knowledge. Paul, on the other hand, wanted Christians’ special knowledge to be rooted in the Special One. Thus, he wanted them to have wisdom and knowledge as it related to Jesus and who He was.
He prayed for their discipline. We can almost hear John Wesley giving a hearty “Amen” to the idea that Paul prayed for their morale and firmness of faith. Those of us who stand in the Wesleyan tradition know how important it is to keep moving forward in our faith. Every day, we grow closer to a Lord who bids us come, follow.
This scripture reminds us that our faith, our journey, is not ours alone. We pray for ourselves, and we pray for each other. We offer prayers of thanks for those who have helped us in our walk, and we offer prayers for the success of those who follow.
Gracious God, we thank you today for everyone whose prayers have helped shape us. We pray today for those whom we influence in the way of salvation. Fill those who follow with the richest of your blessings. We ask this in the name of the One who prayed for us, Jesus the Christ. Amen.