An Exemplary Prayer
Read Colossians 4:2-4 (ESV)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
How could following Paul’s example make your prayer life more rich, meaningful, and effective?
As Christians, one of the greatest blessings available to us is the gift of prayer. Prayer is our ability to communicate and fellowship with the Lord. But I believe it is also the most underutilized blessing that we have. Do you struggle to maintain a deep and rich prayer life? Do you get stuck repeating the same prayers over and over because you don’t know what to say? Do you find yourself only reaching out to God when you need something from Him instead of seeking His presence daily? If so, you are not alone. But I believe today’s passage can give us some encouragement to persist in our prayer life.
First, Paul exhorted the Colossian believers to be steadfast in their prayers. Several other versions say to be “devoted” to prayer. I don’t know about you but sometimes, I have been tempted to give up on praying because I don’t immediately see the fruitfulness of it. And yet, Paul says to continue to pray. Don’t quit. Persevere.
He also tells us to be watchful as we pray. Other versions, like the NASB say we should “be alert.” He means that we should pray for something specific and then be on the lookout for His answer. This is one reason that I love the practice of writing down prayers. There is nothing more expectant than writing down a specific prayer request and leaving an open space next to it to record God’s answer, no matter what it is or when it comes. Being watchful in prayer is a demonstration of our faith that God is listening and that He will respond according to His will.
Paul also instructs the Colossians to pray with an attitude of thanksgiving. No matter what situation you find yourself in, there is always something to be thankful to the Lord for. I mean, Paul was in prison and yet, He had a grateful heart!
Gratitude in our prayers remind us of everything God has already done for us. Just the act of giving thanks to Him can bolster our faith and remind us of who the God we are praying to is and what He is capable of. It can encourage our hearts to persist while we wait for God’s response to our current prayers. Because God has answered us before, we know He will answer again.
Finally, we can learn something about the content of Paul’s prayers. Notice that he doesn’t ask for prayers for his release from prison. He doesn’t want them to pray that he wouldn’t have to suffer for the Gospel. It wouldn’t have been necessarily wrong for him to ask for prayer for those things. God cares about the situations that we are in. But instead, Paul prayed for a door to be opened for them to continue to preach the Word and that they would present it accurately and clearly. Did you catch that? He wants a door to be opened so that he can continue to do the very thing that landed him in prison in the first place. Wouldn’t it be something if we all prayed more Gospel-centered prayers than self-centered prayers?
Friends, Paul was not afraid to ask his friends to pray for him. Likewise, we should ask others to pray for us and consider it a privilege to pray on behalf of others. Prayer is a blessing that we should access every single day, at all times (Ephesians 6:18). And this example of Paul’s prayer should be instructive and encouraging for us. Keep praying! He’s listening.
God, thank You for the gift of prayer. Help me to persist in praying even when I feel like giving up. Change my heart so that I pray for others and for Your kingdom more than I pray for myself. Help me stay alert and watchful for the answer to my prayers. I know You are listening. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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