Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting a Little Help from My Friends
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 4:2-4:18 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: If prayer is vital to us, surely it should be easier for us to comprehend and utilize as a simple tool. Perhaps that is the first of many wrong assumptions we have about prayer—that it is merely a tool. I have been told, and by more than one professional athlete, that the gym is not a tool to be used. The gym is not a means to an end; it is part of your life. The equipment needs to be taken care of just as much as it needs to be used. It grows with you, adapts with you over time. It is not an enemy to be overcome, rather it is an extension of who you are. I tend to look at gyms as places I would rather not visit. I use them in an emergency, feel tremendous pain after using them, and avoid them like the plague as a result. They don’t exactly fill me with dread, but I do feel like I am about to overcommit every time I enter one. This leads to a lot of aching guilt and regret.
Do we approach our prayer life the same way?
Do we start praying at the beginning of a particular season of life or according to our calendar and then overcommit by promising to pray five hours a day? Do we feel guilty for not praying and then, because we ignored it, it never becomes part of our life? It does not belong to us nor do we belong to prayer. It disappears rapidly from our memory until one day when we need it.
Every time I go on a retreat, as I did last weekend to Sunset Lake in Washington State, my attention is immediately drawn to nature. I was preaching the whole weekend for the family retreat and I could not stop soaking in the surroundings. The embers on the fire pit brought my mind to Peter denying Jesus around the fire and Jesus bringing him home early in the morning to another fire on the beach (John 21). The worship bowl, where we gathered Sabbath morning, was formed out of a clearing in the forest and surrounded by towering evergreen trees. These trees along with the rich brown wood of the rough-hewn benches soothed my heart, and the warm sun felt like the kiss of God on my face. I wanted to take the prayer walk through the forest and walk around the lake. What stopped me, you ask? The physical pain in my back, knees, and right foot! What needs to happen is physical therapy and a commitment to the gym. The real question is not what needs to happen but what is stopping it from happening?
Recalibrate: What is really preventing you from moving forward with a prayer life?
Respond: Ask Jesus for the courage to be open to hear His voice.
Research: Read Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller.
Remember: “Continue praying and keep alert. And when you pray, always thank God” (Colossians 4:2, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
Take a walk with your little one, either around your house or in the outdoors. Hold their hand or hold them as you walk through the spaces where you live. Talk with your child, asking questions and waiting for answers. If they haven’t found their words yet, imagine what their voice will sound like when they do. Jesus has sent His spirit to hold our hands and walk with us in the spaces we live. Let’s talk with Him, ask questions and, when we hear His voice, pray that we have the eyes to see Him, ears to hear Him, and the will to do what He wants, in Jesus’ name.
Do you know what “opportunity” is? Opportunity makes it possible to do something. Like we have the opportunity to visit a friend across the street. Paul says that we should pray that God will give us the opportunity to tell people His message. Paul was in jail when he wrote this. I would have been asking for prayer to get me out of jail. Paul was always looking for an opportunity to share Jesus’ love for people, even when he was in jail. Let’s pray today that we will see the opportunities that God has made for us to share Jesus’ love and that no matter where we are, we will always take time to share Jesus’ love.
Last week I did something kind of air-headed when I left the church. Before I closed the door to my office, I put my church keys down on my desk and walked away. It wasn’t until an hour later when I reached into my pocket to get my keys to unlock my house that I realized my mistake. I was not only locked out of my house, but I was locked out of the church, too! I was thankful that I still had my car key so I could travel back and forth. But until someone else came to the church with keys, or my wife came home from the gym, I was stuck. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I had left my keys inside my office or outside on the back patio. I drove back to the church to double check. As I arrived at the church, I prayed I hadn’t been so forgetful as to leave them outside where someone could steal them. I looked all around the parking lot and didn’t see them, but I still needed to get inside to make sure they were safe in my office. (I figured I could peek through the window even though I couldn’t open the door without the key.) I prayed that somehow an exterior door would have been left unlocked and I could get inside the corridor to check my office. And wouldn’t you know it? Someone forgot to close the door to the side of the sanctuary! I got into the building and saw my keys through my office window!
Paul asks that the Colossians pray that “God will open a door” allowing him to teach the people about the Gospel. Again, I know I reminded you of this yesterday, but Paul is in prison when he writes this letter. He could have asked the people to pray for another door to be opened (like the one to his cell), but he chose to ask for this door to be opened instead! Sometimes we pray for things that help us, like an open door to help me to get inside the church. Other times we pray for the benefit of other people.
What are some doors that you would like to see opened for you? What are some doors that you can pray about that need to be opened for others?
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Colossians 4:3-4). Pray for each other! There is always power—power that parts seas and moves mountains to the sea—in prayer! Lift one another up in prayer and never hesitate to ask others to lift you up the same. We all need companions who will support us and pray for us.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.