By Dave Lescalleet
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 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 4:2-4
This passage is all about how we pray to God for the people in our lives. In these few short verses, Paul is pointing out that everything we do must be bathed in prayer. We see this three ways.
1. Prayers should be Persevering
“Devote yourselves to prayer” or (some translations have…) “Continue steadfastly in prayer.” To continue steadfastly is to persevere and to persevere is to busy oneself with the task at hand, namely praying for othersAlmost all of us carry around a smartphone, do we not? These little devices keep charged when they are plugged in, but they run down the more we use them. I think we often view prayer in the same way: the less we use it, the more power it displays. But prayer is just the opposite. Prayer increases in power the more it is used and actually decreases when we put it away. So ask yourself: Is your prayer for others marked by that kind of continued steadfastness? We must keep prayer in the on position.
2. Prayers should be Watchful
Paul writes, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it.” To have ‘watchful prayer’ is a reminder that we are daytime people. Do you know what that means? Someone who is in darkness has nighttime behavior. What is nighttime behavior? It involves sleep and yawning our way through life. But daytime behavior is much different. What do we do during the day? We go to work. We serve and are alert to all that needs to be done. When Paul writes be watchful in your prayers, he is saying keep alert for what God will do in and through your prayers. Be expectant. Do not be yawning through your prayer life.
3. Prayers should be Thankful
Our prayers are to be both watchful and thankful. But now what does that look like? Paul gives us an example. It’s subtle but it’s there: 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. Notice Paul does not say, “Thank God I’m in prison! I’m so happy to be suffering like this!” You’ll also notice that Paul doesn’t ask that the prison doors be opened (although I’m sure he wished they were!). But he does say pray with perseverance, watchfulness, and thanksgiving. Why? Not so they would be saved from their suffering. But that the Gospel message of grace would be evident to all through their suffering.
As we carry on through the day, may our prayers for the people in our life be marked by perseverance, watchfulness, and thankfulness. Lord hear our prayer.