Several times we have read about how the apostle St. Paul prayed and thanked for one of his congregations. This happened for those congregations he founded and that therefore were in a filial relation to him their father in the faith. They were as precious to him as children are to their father. In this sort of relationship supplications and thanksgiving are the order of the day and come quite naturally really. In Colossae we find a congregation that was not founded by St. Paul. That is why this verse is so much more noteworthy and the prayerful conduct of the apostle admirable and exemplary. His heart is full of love and devotion. Oh, would ours just be a fraction of the same. St. Paul is praying for people, he doesn’t know. They are not his children, they are not his family and not his friends or even just acquaintances. Yet he knows about them through the news brought from them to him by Epaphras. That is why he loves them. That is why he gives thanks for them as if they were his very own offspring. What a life filled with prayer, supplication, petitions and thanksgiving the apostle had! He is so grateful that the Colossians have been found, saved and justified by the Lord of the Church himself. May God have mercy on us poor people, who are so negligent and full of shortcomings with regards to our prayer life. We hardly pray for ourselves and our families, never mind the Church and its worldwide mission. And what about thanksgiving? What about prayer for our congregation and Church – and those congregations far off, on the mission field amongst foreign nations and strange people?
Eternal, merciful God! We praise you and give you thanks for your saving light that you have revealed to us in your holy Word. You have enlightened your Church throughout the world. We ask you, grant that this light will let your knowledge, truth and wisdom grow amongst us that we will love, trust and fear you more and more. Enliven and invigorate our hearts with fervent faith and hope in you, but also with good works of mercy and caring towards our neighbour. Grant us sure confidence and patience as we wait for your glorious return and by your grace receive our eternal abode with you. Amen.
Father, we thank Thee Who has planted Thy holy name within our hearts. Knowledge and faith and life immortal Jesus Thy Son to us imparts. Thou, Lord, didst make all for Thy pleasure, Didst give man food for all his days, Giving in Christ the bread eternal; Thine is the pow’r, be Thine the praise.
Watch o’er Thy Church, O Lord, in mercy, Save it from evil, guard it still, Perfect it in love, unite it, Cleansed and conformed unto Thy will. As grain, once scattered on the hillsides, Was in this broken bread made one, So from all lands Thy church be gathered Into Thy kingdom by Thy Son. (Didache 2nd Century tr F. Bland Tucker, 1895-1984)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for twenty-fourth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 383 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.