The apostle Paul was under guard in chains in Rome when he wrote the letter to the church in Colossae of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey about 120 miles east of Ephesus). He was concerned about the heresies that were making inroads there and sought to keep them centered on Christ. In the fourth chapter, he called for prayer: "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:2-4). We, too, need to be concerned about the deceitful philosophies of our own day that would lead us away from Christ and take heed to answer his call for prayer.
Be Earnest – be diligent in prayer (Luke 18:1). Be devoted to prayer. Persevere and continue in prayer (Rom. 12:12). Never give up on prayer; never quit praying (1 The. 5:17). I pray all the time, but I knew one preacher who said it was just a psychological exercise. Prayer to God is our access to the greatest source of power (Jam. 5:16). It acknowledges our complete dependence upon God and demonstrates our faith in Him to provide all things good and needful (Mat. 7:7-11; 1 Cor. 4:7; Jam. 1:17). To give up on prayer is to give up on God.
Be Vigilant – be watchful, alert, on guard in prayer (1 Pet. 5:8; Mat. 6:13). Beware and awake to the dangers of temptation and sin. Some close their eyes to this reality of life. They are blind to what is really happening in their marriage, with their children, in our nation, in the church to destroy them. When we fail to bring prayer to these things, we fail to bring God to these things.
Be Thankful – be grateful in prayer (Eph. 5:20; Phi. 4:6-7; 1 The. 5:18). Thankfulness reminds us of God’s answers in the past and assures us of His answers in the present. We must not neglect thanksgiving when looking to God for our needs.
Paul asked for prayers for himself and his fellow workers. But his request was not selfish. He asked prayers for an opportunity to tell the gospel, although he was presently being persecuted for that very thing. He would rejoice to share in the sufferings of Christ if it was necessary to save souls and glorify God. He asked prayers that he might speak clearly, plainly, convincingly, persuasively, courageously, in a way that the gospel might be understood, believed, received, obeyed, upheld, and furthered.
Prayer is a blessing and privilege God has given us to help us accomplish His will and purposes for His glory (Mat. 6:9-10, 13; Jam. 4:3; 1 John 5:14-15). This is best seen in the practice of our Lord Jesus Christ while on earth in the flesh. He constantly prayed demonstrating His dependence upon His heavenly Father. In the garden before going to the cross we especially see His earnestness, vigilance, and unselfishness in prayer, while His disciples kept falling asleep (Mat. 26:36-46). It was that night in prayer that Jesus won the battle against the flesh so that He went to the cross with courage, faith, and determination to do His Father’s will. Let us never take prayer for granted but follow Christ’s example, that we, too, might accomplish God’s will for us (1 Pet. 2:21-25).
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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