Charles Stanley - Praying With Impact
If someone should say to you, "How can I pray for you"? What would you say? Would you have something specific that you could say? Well, sometimes you might, sometimes you may not, or sometimes you maybe a little too embarrassed to even answer the question. And you may think, well they're being a little nosey. No. They really want to know how to pray for you. Do you have an answer? And let me ask you this. Do you know to pray for someone else? Well, your answer maybe. You know, I have so many issues in my own life, I don't have time to pray for somebody else. Well, you really do. You either don't because of sin in your life. You don't because you don't care. Maybe you don't because you don't know how.
If somebody says to me, Pastor, how can I pray for you? I have an exact answer. And it's an answer I want you consider this morning. It's an answer I want you to consider for yourself. Because it is a prayer. Two things are true about it. Number one, You do not have to ask if it's the will of God. And secondly, you can pray it with absolute confidence. And so oftentimes we say, almost like magic, if it be thy will. Lord if you'll do this if it be thy will. There're some things very clear in the Bible that's the will of God. And so, I want you to think about this prayer seriously, because if somebody prays this prayer for you, it's going to make a difference in your life. If you pray, on a couple of conditions we'll mention later; for somebody else it's going to make a difference in their life.
So I want you to turn to the first chapter of Colossians. And, I want us to read a few verses here. Paul was in Ephesus about three years and preaching the gospel and one of his converts that he mentions here, was Epaphras, and he went to Colossae and probably began preaching there, and so Paul didn't know them personally. And so, he writes this epistle and here's what he says as he begins in verse seven, "Just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, And he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; Joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins".
You may think Well, now how in the world is that prayer going to affect anybody that I know? So I want us to look at it because, yes it will. If somebody asks me, Oh pastor, what can I pray for you? Here's what I say. Pray Colossians chapter one, nine through fourteen. Watch this carefully. It doesn't make any difference what's going on in your life. That prayer will fit your life. There're six different parts to it. And I want us take each one of them for a few moments and think about it. And you may think about it in the light of somebody praying for you, but you may also think about in the light of praying for other people. I think about how many parents, for example, who have small children, very, very, small; and they pray, Lord, bless them, help them to grow up and be good and this, that, and the other.
I want you to think about something as a parent. When you bring a child into this world, you bring a life that is going to spend eternity somewhere. And you have the privilege as a mother, as a father, as a grandparent, of helping to mold that life, and to mold it so it will move in a certain direction and accomplish certain things in life. You're the molder. You have an awesome responsibility. And one of those responsibilities involves this awesome opportunity of praying for that child. And, when you think about praying this prayer for any child, it's going to have an awesome impact. So I want you to think about your children, moms and dads. And I want you to think about your grandchildren. And think about your friends, and think about most of all somebody praying this prayer for you. It will impact your life.
So let's look at these verses for a few moments. And we'll put the main points on the mag screens but the rest, listen to it carefully. Here's what he says, he says, "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that," number one, watch this, "ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding".
Now it's always right to pray that somebody would know the will of God for their life. And I can remember before my kids were born, I began to pray two things: number one, that God would should them His will for their life, and number two, they would marry the right person. Because those are the two major things. And then I would kneel down by the bed at night when they were home and I'd always talk about the will of God. We want to pray for God to show you His will. They didn't have any idea what I was talking about. But you know what? Put it in their mind. And this is why it's so important that you begin to program the minds of your children so early. They don't even know what you're talking about. The Spirit of God does. And the Spirit of God will take that truth and He will work it into that child's mind.
Praying, listen, he says, praying, praying that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will for your life. And notice what he says, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. What you're praying for when you're praying for somebody to know His will, you're praying that they may know the direction that God has set for their life. And, until we understand the will of God and know His will for our life, then we're still floundering. You can impact that child's life or that young person's life very early by your prayers. You don't want to just pray to make somebody feel good. You want to impact their life. And impact means change. And so, you have the power, the privilege, the awesome opportunity of doing that. Because the truth is we all want to know the will of the Father for our life. Whether we are sixty or whether you're six.
Then notice the second part. He says, "To be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. So that you will walk in a manner worth of the Lord". Well, what is that? What you're saying is, You want that person to walk in a way, in a manner that is worthy of, that is, consistent with His life. And the Greeks had a way of demonstrating worth. And what they would do, they would have a picture of scales. And put one thing on one scale, and something else on the other, and however it weighed, and so Paul would use the idea of Jesus here and us here. And so, What is he saying? He's saying that you and I may walk in a manner, listen, that is befitting of who we are. We are followers of Jesus Christ. If I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, the world has a right that our lifestyle, our daily walk is a lifestyle that's patterned after the life of Jesus.
Now that doesn't mean that you're walking up and down the road preaching the gospel. But it means His character. Who He was and who He is in our life. Walking in a manner that is pleasing to Him. And so when you think about that, you think about the person you're praying for. What kind of life are they living? Whatever it is, your prayers can impact their life. Make a change. Change their life in a way that'll be very evident because when you talk about the idea of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, we're talking about a person's lifestyle.
For example, remember this, when Jesus left He said to His disciples, I'm leaving you, the Holy Spirit is going to live in, within, upon you, and so that means that every single one of us who is a follower of Jesus is an extension of His life. He says He's seated at the Father's right hand to make intersession for us. But He's left us here, that's why He doesn't just get you saved one day and take you home tomorrow. He leaves us down here to bear witness and a testimony and influence. Make an impact in the lives of other people.
And so, you and I have the privilege of praying for that person that their lifestyle, their behavior, their conduct, their language; the things that they say, the things that they do, would be consistent with the person of Jesus Christ as to how He lived. Isn't that really the way you want to live? But what I want is this, who is it in your life that you care enough about this, what's the value you place on anybody's life that you're willing to spend time, invest time praying to God. Lord, show him, or show her your will for their life. Lord I want you, I want you to work in the way they live their lives. Pleasing to you, honorable to you, characteristic of the life of Christ. God, change their life. Speak to their heart.
I've heard many a parent, and seen many a parent wept over their kid's dilemma, and the things and situations and circumstances they were in. And I wonder sometimes, Well, did you just start praying, after they got in trouble? I'm afraid that's what happens oftentimes. Parents never get serious about praying for their kids and allowing. Can you imagine this? Allowing your children to have parties, drinking parties at your home, and all the things that go on to then. I'm thinking, those parents would say, Oh, I love my son or my daughter and that is why I do this. No, you do not love them. No, you want to please them.
And sometimes you want to live your life again the second time through them in their early life. If you love them, you would forbid it. If you love them, you would grow them up in a godly fashion. If you really and truly genuinely cared for them. You care for them not only in this life but in the life to come. No, you wouldn't give them everything they want; let them do whatever they want to do; go anywhere they want to go. You wouldn't sponsor parties where they can, sleep that night altogether and drink and carry on. You think that's love? That's not love. That's laziness, carelessness, indifference, selfishness, and all the rest but it is not love. It is not love.
Well, listen to what he says, "That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work". Listen to that, bearing fruit in every good work which simply means what? That you live a life that is wisely invested. You don't waste it. Bearing fruit in every good work. That is, our life is not a waste but it makes a contribution. So ask yourself the question, In what way is your life making a contribution? What are you saying to your sons and your daughters about their life and God's will for their life, and how you believe that they have something to contribute.
And you think about people living their lives and most of their life is wrapped up in my job and my possessions, and what I want, and my pleasures, and my plans, and me, myself and I. And, my children, and my husband, and my wife. My, my, my, my. What about God? Where is He in all that? You, see, if we are really living in a manner that is pleasing to Him, I'm going to be thinking about somebody else more than myself. I'm going to be thinking about what can I contribute to them? How can I help them? How can I motivate them? What can I do to encourage them to make their life count for somebody else? Notice how he says it. He says, he says, "Bearing fruit in every good work".
Listen, and he says, increasing in the knowledge of God. That should happen to you every time you come to church. That God ought to say something in some way; it maybe sort of the same thing but in a different way. Increasing in the knowledge of God. Look at the world in which we are growing these children up. They desperately need the truth very early in life because they're going to be attacked by everything imaginable.
So, he says, "Bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God". Where are you going to learn that? In a Christian private school you'll learn some but in most public schools you're not going to learn any. There are some wonderful public school teachers but they're not allowed to talk about the Lord. Listen to me, if you don't do it at home, forget it. And if you don't bring them to church and if you don't go to church where somebody teaches the Word of God and believes in the Word of God.
And I'll say this, and I will say it lovingly but very strongly. You go to church, I don't care where it is; what denomination it is, and the Pastor talks about some of the scripture being true and some not. Get out! Here's what you're doing. You are teaching your children, you're teaching your children that the Word of God is not all, all true and, therefore, why should they grow up believing it? Why should they grow up wanting to be a Christian? Why should they grow up wanting to follow God? Why should they grow up believing and trusting God.
Now, I know most of you read your Bible every single day. Amen? Good. The best way to teach your children to have a desire for the knowledge of God is to see you reading this Book and to read it with them. You say, Well, they don't understand! You don't know how much they understand. And I remember, when my kids said to me, Dad, we don't understand this. I bought them a copy of The Living Bible translation, both of them. I never had to ask them to read the Bible again because they understood it better than they did King James. Whatever it takes to help your children to understand the Word of God; and the only reason they're going to have a desire for the knowledge of God is because you do.
And secondly, not only do you have a knowledge of the Word of God, but you got to talk about it. You have got to talk about what you have learned. Not just here's what the Pastor said, or this, but here's what we are learning. And when children grow up in a family where they talk about the Lord; and I can't even imagine any day in any family that the Lord's name shouldn't come up about something. If you can live a full day, and watch TV, and read the newspaper, and the magazines, and your friends and talk on the phone, and so forth and never mention Jesus, there's something wrong! We are followers of Him. Tell me anything anymore important than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing so important as that. Children need to listen and here's what happens. I can graphically show you what happens when you start praying for them early in life. They come up in life, and little by little, as you pray for them, and you give them guidance and direction for life, you bend their heart and their life toward God. Because they hear the truth, over and over and over again.
Now there are three things that are essential for that: number one, you got to read and study the Word of God. You got to read the Word of God. And secondly, you've got to apply it to your life, and thirdly, which most people forget, then you observe what happened as a result of my obedience. Now I can say this, confident, any Sunday you come to church here, and many other churches too, you have enough notes; you ought to have enough notes, and when you go home, you can talk to them to your kids about them. What do you think about so and so? Let 'em talk. It doesn't make any difference, listen, don't say, hmm-mm-mm, that's wrong. Just let them talk. Because what you need to find out is, What are they thinking. How much did they hear? And once in a while somebody, some child will show me their notes, and I'll think, I wish your parents were that smart. I mean, you've got every single point down.
You know what? Watch this. Because they see and hear something that God has impressed in their little heart, is very important. And then watch this. Then He says, "Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might". That is, praying for that person to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. He sent Him to indwell you and me in order that we might be able to live a godly life. That is, we can't live a godly life apart from the Holy Spirit. We can't do it. That's why He said to them, Sit down in the city of Jerusalem, tarry ye here, He says, until you have been filled with the Spirit of God. When you were saved the Spirit of God came into your life.
Now once in a while some parent will say, Well, you know what? I don't have much education and I can't really teach my kids too much. Listen, you're teaching them whether you plan it or not. You're teaching them by the way you live, by what you say, by what you have, by how you pray, by how you don't pray, In other words, you are teaching them. And then the last thing he says, "Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light". And he says, "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son".
Look at this. He says, I'm praying that you would live in such a way that you would joyously, joyously give thanks to the Father. What are you saying? I'm praying for you that you will have joy in your life; that you will have happiness in your life; that you will have peace in your life. Because, look what God has done for you. You see, when a person begins to understand what God has really done in their life, really begin to grasp that, you're going to be thankful. There is going to be a joy in your heart you cannot explain. But now watch what he says, he says, "Giving thanks to the Father". For what? Number one. He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of God in Heaven. He has qualified us.
Look at these, all passed, qualified us; "Rescued us from the domain of darkness, transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son. In whom we have redemption, and the forgiveness of sin". You can pray that for somebody. Listen, pray that that person walking in darkness would be transferred to the Kingdom of His Light. Notice what He says. He says, "He's qualified us. He's transferred us". He has delivered us. He has redeemed us. He has saved us. And praying for somebody in that light, that God would do that in their life, Is God going to answer that prayer? Yes, He is. Why? Because He is committed to it.
Here's what He said, First John Chapter five. Say it again, "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. If we know that He hears us we know that we have the petition that we desire of Him". This prayer is the will of God for every single person. So I don't have to ask you if it's Your will.
Now, you want to impact somebody else's life, this is the way to do it. But let me remind you of something. I mentioned this earlier. Two conditions: number one, a clean heart. In that sixth Psalm here is what He says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, He will not hear me". To regard it means, I hold on to it. I know it's there. I practice it. I'm ignoring God about the whole issue. I am allowing sin in my life. He says, I'm not going to hear you. And secondly, I have got to believe Him.
So here's the issue, do you value the person that you are praying for enough to live a godly life? So God will hear you? And secondly do you believe the Word of God that what He says He will do? If those two things are true, there is no estimation of the kind of impact you can have in somebody else's life. Do you value your own life, enough to pray that prayer for yourself? God, I want to know your will. I want to walk in a way that is pleasing to you and honorable to you, and all the rest of those things. Do I value it enough to keep my heart clean and my faith in Him? Amen?
Father we pray the Holy Spirit will speak to every person who hears this message and remind them of what an awesome opportunity they have, to impact the smallest child of the eldest parent or the eldest person. Thank you for the awesome privilege of prayer. Thank you for those who have prayed for us all these years. And I pray the Holy Spirit will sink this so deep that not a parent who hears it could be even think about going to sleep at night without praying this prayer for their children. Is my plea to you, God, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Well, you may not be a believer and you say, Well, how does all that stuff fit me? I'll tell you how. It doesn't fit you at all, until you first of all you ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins; lay it all down; ask Him to pardon you on the basis of what He did at the cross; trusting Him as your personal Savior. Once you do that, you have access to the throne of God. You can pray, and He will hear and answer your prayers. Think about this. Every single one of us sitting here is going to spend eternity somewhere. If you really and truly thought that your prayer would influence someone to the point, and instead of going to hell they would go to heaven, would you do it? If it's somebody you love you surely would. This whole message has one simple idea. You have within your capacity to impact somebody's life by your prayers, with a clean heart, and a simple childlike faith to believe that He will hear and answer you, amen?