Praying with a Scriptural Strategy

Continuing with the subject of prayer, here we will look at one way that we can pray strategically, starting with some key scriptures, then focusing on what Paul wrote to the Colossians regarding his great conflict on their behalf and for the believers in Laodicea.

19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)

10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:10–11 (NKJV)

In Luke 10:19 and Matthew 28:18-20 we see the authority Jesus delegated to His followers. In the model prayer Jesus provided, the first two phrases in Matthew 6:10 are declarative statements emphasizing what we can expect and the last phrase locates where this is to take place, on earth as in heaven. This allows us to pray with confidence. In Ephesians 3:10-11 we see that a responsibility and privilege we hold as the church is to make His wisdom known in the heavenly places and are made aware that it is part of the Father’s eternal purpose.

Now we turn to an example from scripture that we can emulate. Paul sharing something regarding the goal of his intercession for the church in Colossae and Laodicea.

1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:1–10 (NKJV)

Paul’s heart was for the Colossians and Laodiceans to remain on the right path. In verse 1 the NKJV has the word ‘conflict’ while the ESV translates the word as ‘struggle.’ Neither conflict or struggle fully capture what Paul was expressing. Here is the meaning of the word in Greek. ἀγών agōn; from 71; a gathering, contest, struggle:—conflict(1), fight(2), opposition(1), race(1), struggle(1).[1] Agon is the root of our English word agony, in Greek, ἀγωνία agōnia. Here Paul is describing not a mere conflict or struggle as he qualifies it with the word ‘great.’ He is referencing a battle with dark spiritual forces.

We don’t know the exact words Paul prayed. We do know that his goal was that they would understand what they had and that they would be aware of the treasure they possessed in their relationship with Jesus. Hence his command to not only ‘receive’ Jesus but to ‘walk in Him.’ His concern was that they would lose out by embracing false philosophies built on the principles of the world rather than the truth of scripture.

Thus, in discipling those he knew and those he had never met, Paul let them know he was praying, wrestling and contending for them. We can assume that whatever words he used he would have been declaring that the Father’s kingdom would be present and submitted to in their lives, here on earth just as if they were in heaven. He would have prayed for their minds to be protected from the false philosophies he was concerned about. He knew that his actions would show forth the wisdom of God to the dark spiritual forces in the heavenlies (he wrote Ephesians and Colossians in the same time period).  

Now on to us. We can apply the same approach as Paul in praying for individuals or situations. We can come into agreement with His word and declare that His kingdom will come and His will be done in lives and circumstances. We can do this knowing He has given us spiritual authority to be exercised, authority that is effective based on bearing His name before the throne of grace. Let’s do that.

[1] Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).

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I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

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