A very good morning to you my precious family in Christ.
Colossians 4:2 says ”Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
The Apostle Paul writes the letter to the Colossians from Rome during his first imprisonment, which occurs at the close of the book of Acts. He wrote to some people whom he'd never met as far as we know. Colossae was a city in the Roman province of Asia, in present-day Turkey. The Christians in Colossae had been brought to Christ, and the church established there, by a man named Epaphras, who had ministered with Paul. But Paul is concerned about them, and so he is writing to them about their spiritual welfare. This suggests that we can include ourselves in this letter very easily. Paul has never visited Medway either. We have never met Paul, but he is writing to us. And what he has to say to us is very important, because we are facing the same problems that these people in Colossae faced some two thousand years ago.
The Greek word Paul chooses for steadfastly means "to be ready at all times." In Mark chapter 3 verse 9, there is an incident which illustrates this. We read that Jesus told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, in case they should crush Him. The word for ready is the same word translated steadfastly in Colossians. That is, "Always be ready to pray, because prayer is such a vital link with the Heavenly Father, whose life is available to us continually, that in every circumstance we need to pray." That is what Paul is saying. "Be ready to break into prayer -- in your thought life -- instantaneously, at all times, because that is the way we ought to live."
Paul began his writing to the Colossians is the same manner in which he ends it. He first acknowledged his prayer and thanksgiving to God, agonizing in prayer for them. As he closes, he once again reiterates that he and his companions constantly pray for them (ch. 4 verse 12). However, he also calls on them to be people of prayer. He does not simply call on them to pray, but rather to be defined as people who are wholeheartedly committed to the act of praying to God. As such, there are three important aspects to the posture of prayer here.
The first is a devotion to prayer. Paul compels the Colossians to “keep on continuing in prayer.” Being devoted to prayer means that one is constantly engaged in and giving constant attention to it. It is this character that Paul has in mind in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 when he writes “pray without ceasing”. Too often, prayer has become simply a to-do on a checklist of tasks that we hope to complete for the day. Yet prayer is part of our relationship with God. As with any relationship, individuals must spend time together talking, conversing, and opening up. It is the same with prayer. It is a means to developing a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father.
Together with prayer, Paul says they are to be watchful. In the New Testament, there is an end times element to prayer when mentioned in conjunction with watching. It directs one’s attention towards the coming of Christ (Luke 2:36) It is not that one should be watching for Christ’s return, but rather that they should watch their own life in light of Christ’s return. Not knowing the hour of Christ’s return, one must live always being vigilant that Jesus will return. As a result, we should live a lifestyle that reflects His coming again. This is true for one’s prayer life as well. We should pray in such a way that expects His return soon. As one is being watchful, they are able to see the work of God. Furthermore, as one is watchful, they are able to be more discerning of the situation around. This is important because it helps to direct our prayers, aligning our desires with those of God.
Finally, Paul indicates prayer should be characterized with thanksgiving. “Gratitude is a grace that Christian people are to cultivate.” We often neglect prayer, assigning it to a check box on our to-do list and even more, when we do take part in prayer, it is often to ask God to give us what we want. Instead, prayer should be focused on thankfulness for what we have. This includes being thankful not only for the physical life that God has given us, but also thankful for who God is and the way He works in our lives.
Prayer is a skill, it takes time to develop. To grow one must practice, which means growth comes from praying regularly. James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. So the first key is placing importance on praying. If it is not something you see as important, you will never be devoted to it.
Prayer carries with it a great promise from God—an answer, when the prayer is offered in faith according to God’s will. 1 John 5:14-15 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him”. This is incentive to pray; learn what God’s will is and pray in faith. When you do you will see results, He will answer our prayers. Yes/no/wait
Paul says two things about prayer. The first is: "Keep at it" -- "continue steadfastly in prayer." The reason, obviously, is that prayer is essential to your Christian life. Prayer is dependence on God, and that is the name of the game! If you don't pray, then you are not expressing any dependence on Him at all
Prayer requires us to be watchful that we do not neglect it in our Christian life. Seeking to be diligent in it, prayer should be the first response to all situations and the first response to a new day. Prayer is a difficult thing for many to be diligent in. By scheduling time to pray, we not only ensure that we have time, but it keeps us from filling that important time with something else, as is so easy to do. We must be devoted to prayer, and sometimes that means using extreme means in order to ensure we spend time in prayer, and not flippant time where we can just complete the task. Prayer should be a time of dedicated communion with God. Significant not just in time, but in depth and whole-heartedness.
Second our prayer should be characterized by awareness. Awareness of others, awareness of self, and awareness of God. What is going on in the lives of those around you? How can you pray specifically for them? It is awareness that allows one to see God’s work, praying for it, praying how to be involved in it, and praying how to direct others in it.
Finally, the character of prayer must be gratitude. It is significant that the Lord’s Prayer spends the first sections on thanking God. This too should be much of our focus of prayer. God has given much, and we should find ourselves in a position of thankfulness more than in a position of wanting more.
The curtain between man and God has been torn, and we are called upon to enter the holy place. We are to bring, in our hands, the needs of others, together with our grateful thanks, and to offer them in humble reverence before the feet of our Father in heaven.
Paul's instructions are that we are to be watchful, alert and intent in prayer.
Prayer is not a last resort; it is our first line of defence.
God wants believers to pray, because in it is the ability for Him to move and act. He has given authority on earth to believers which carries with it a great responsibility. Prayer is one of our greatest weapons in other words, “a prayerless Church is a weak Church.”
Let us Pray
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Good News of Your Gospel, which has lost not one bit of its power nor of its appeal to the human heart. Thank You Lord Jesus for coming to set us free, for dying for us so that You might live in us. Lord, we pray that we may be living examples of Your work in us. for changing us, for redeeming us, for correcting us, forgiving us, healing us, and for meeting all our needs. Help us to be people devoted to You. We give thanks for this glorious message you have given us to declare, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Much love and blessings to you in our Lord Jesus. Maurice and Margaret.