- By Rev. Devadosan Sugirtharaj
- Posted 09/13/2020
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Vital Signs of Growing Church Sermon Series
Commitment to Prayer
- The church grows when the church is committed to prayer. The methods and models of church growth seem to be helpful to grow the church, the vital sign of the growing church is its commitment to prayer in personal, family, congregational and leadership levels.
- When the church dedicates itself to a spirit of prayer and waiting upon the Lord, their vision becomes real and their ministries bring growth. Otherwise, the church becomes like a wind-mill to go around and around but never makes a sign of growth.
- Today’s scripture reading reminds us to call for the ministry of prayer in our church.
- Prayer: Proseuche: The Greek term refers generally for prayer, stresses fervency and also always to pray to God and to pray with a definite aim
- Devote Proskartereo: This Greek term refers to devotion, moving toward, be strong, steadfast, firm, endure and persevere. Paul used this term as continuous devotion in terms of prayer.
- Paul refers to this continuous devotion to prayer as a single-minded action towards a task. This means that the result we expect comes through the continuous devotion of prayer.
Context of the text
- The apostle Paul wrote Colossians Christians this letter from the prison that the church must be aware of the false teachers and they will distort their wholeness and well being in growing and serving. He called the Colossians to come back to the basics of the Church such as worship, word of God, discipleship, prayer and glorifying God.
- Being devoted to and Vigilant in prayer for the Church against all challenges it faces.
- 2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
- Paul reminded the church at Colosse that the church had been facing innumerable attacks and challenges from outside and inside. In the midst of all challenges, God had called them to grow. When they prayed with thanksgiving to God, prayer makes us to experience freedom from anxiety and also to receive the peace of God.
- When we pray together, in the midst of all challenges, prayer becomes God’s way for us to obtain what we need from him and also it becomes the means God has appointed for us to find grace to help in need of time.
- Ephesians 6:12,13,18: Prayer is the way to resist Devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
- Philippians.4:6-7: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- Biblical Example: Elijah’s devotion to prayer: James.5:13-18
- Sermon illustration: In 1540 Luther’s great friend and assistant, Friedrich Myconius, became sick and was expected to die within a short time. On his bed, he wrote a loving farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand. Luther received the letter and sent back a reply: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead but will-permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”Those words are shocking to us, but they were certainly heartfelt. Although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when Luther’s letter came, he recovered completely and lived six more years to survive Luther himself by two months.
2. Being devoted to and Vigilant in prayer for the Mission of the Church against all closed doors it faces.
- 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the [a]mystery of Christ,
- Paul exhorted the Colossians to pray for the mission of the Church and its proclamation of the gospel where it faced enormous pressures and closed doors in the Roman empire. He recognizes that the church, as the body of Christ, prayed for the churches to continue their mission of Christ. God opens the door for the mission to preach God’s word and gospel when the church prays
- As the church, we need more opening doors for God’s ministry in the world. We cannot open the doors by our own strengths and intelligence. They can be opened when we pray for one another. When we pray God will open the door which no man shuts. We need to pray continually for this cause as the church. When we do we will grow.
- 1 Thessalonians.3: 1-2: Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.
- 1Corinthians.16:8-9: 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
- Biblical Example: God’s opening doors in Europe mission: Acts.14:27-28: 27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 So they stayed there for a long time with the disciples.
- Sermon Illustration:-One day, nurse Cornelia Dalenberg walked down a street in Chicago, and stopped to read the bulletin on a church door. She read that a missionary nurse would be coming to speak, and also noticed the name of Samuel Zwemer, a famous missionary to Arabia. Cornelia was delighted, for she still remembered the account of his work, Arabia, the Cradle of Islam. She attended the meeting. During the meeting, Cornelia felt the Lord's call to service in Arabia, and afterward spoke of it to her denomination's board of missions. She talked to everyone about her call but no one was really interested in it or encouraged her to go. However, she asked her church to pray for the mission in the middle east. Many joined her and prayed with her. Eventually, God’s spirit moved everyone to be passionate about this mission and sent Cornelia as a missionary to Arabia.
3. Being devoted to and Vigilant in prayer for the Ministers of the Church to speak clearly the word of God in the midst of all persecutions they face.
- for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
- Paul called the Colossians to pray for him as he was in prison so that he ought to speak God’s gospel in a way that would make it manifest to the people. He urged the believers to pray for him so that he might preach the mystery of God clearly to the people in the midst of sufferings he was going through
- We, as the Church, have the responsibility to pray for all ministers of God so that they may be faithful to God and his mission regardless of suffering they face. Everyone who involves in ministry needs our prayer and we are called to commit this prayer ministry. When we do, we will grow.
- 2 Timothy 2:8-9: 8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.
- Acts 20:24: 24 [a]But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my [b]race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
- Biblical Example: God’s servants sharing God’s word: Nehemiah 8:8: 8 So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.
- Sermon Illustration: Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher of the Victorian era said of prayer in the church, "If the spirit of prayer is not with the people, the minister may preach like an angle but cannot expect success. There may be in that church wealth, talent, labour and many outreach efforts, but the Lord is not there. Prayer is as sure evidence of the presence of God as the rising of the thermometer is evidence of an increase in temperature. If God is near a church, it must pray. If he is not, one of the obvious signs of His absence will be lethargy in prayer."
We are called to be a growing church. One of the vital signs of church growth is our commitment to the ministry of prayer. From Colossians.4:2-4, we have learned three important ways we do this commitment to prayer.
- Being devoted to and Vigilant in prayer for the Church against all challenges it faces. Colossians.4:2
- Being devoted to and Vigilant in prayer for the Mission of the Church against all closed doors it faces. Colossians 4:3
- Being devoted to and Vigilant in prayer for the Ministers of the Church to speak clearly the word of God in the midst of all persecutions they face. Colossians.4:4
Questions for Discussion
- We are called to devout our lives to prayer as the church for the church. How is your participation in prayer ministry with the church prayers? What are the challenges we face as the church? How do we pray for it
- We are called to devout our lives to pray as the church for its mission in our country and beyond. In what ways, are you devoted to praying for missions of the church in the world? What are the closing doors we face to do ministry in our country and the world? How do engage in prayer to open doors for our mission?
- We are called to devout our lives to pray as the church for pastors, evangelists, apostles, teachers, prophets around the world. In what ways do you pray for these ministers to do God’s ministry faithfully and also proclaim God’s word clearly? Do you participate to pray for our missions in the church?