Colossians 4:2-6 –
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 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. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Our text falls naturally into two parts;
Prayer: Speaking to God about people (verses 2-4)
Evangelism: Speaking to people about God (verses 5-6)
Let’s look first at how to speak to God about others. Verse 2 answers the question, “How do we pray?” We discover three helpful guidelines in this verse: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
- Pray with devotion. The word, “devote” means to “adhere firmly to.” It implies unrelenting persistence and is the opposite of “hit and miss.” It brings back to mind how steadfast the early church was in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In Luke 18:1, Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up; the Parable of the “persistent widow”.
Being devoted in prayer is similar to cheering on your sports team, regardless of whether they are winning or losing. Paul is saying something quite simple: Keep praying. Don’t bail. Don’t give up. Be faithful. You may have dry times and days when you don’t know what to say but keep praying anyway. It may seem like God is not answering but keep praying until you get an answer.
To be “devoted” to prayer also means to be “ready at all times.” In Mark 3:9, Jesus told his disciples to get a small boat ready for Him so that the people wouldn’t crush Him. This word “ready” is the same word that is translated, “devoted” in Colossians 4:2. So, Paul is saying, “Always be ready to break into prayer, and do it instantaneously, at all times.” That’s precisely the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 where we’re told to “pray continually.”
- Pray with watchfulness. Verse 2 continues by saying that we’re to be “watchful” or awake when we pray. Paul told the believers in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 to not fall asleep but to instead be “alert and self-controlled” as the time approaches for the Lord’s return. This exhortation brings to mind the words of Jesus to His disciples the night before He was crucified in Mark 14:34, 38: “Stay here and keep watch…Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Watchful prayer provides the spiritual fortitude to face down temptation. Because Peter could not stay awake when he was supposed to pray, he gave in to temptation and denied Christ a few hours later. It could also mean to be always watchful for things to pray for or people to pray with.
Consider the difference between two military sentries. One is guarding an Armory here in the U.S… The other is guarding a platoon in Afghanistan. Which one is probably going to be more attentive? The one who realizes he’s in a battle. Friends, because we’re in a spiritual battle, we need to stay on high alert at all times. 1 Peter 5:8 paints a real picture of the war we are in: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
- Pray with thankfulness. We should never pray without thinking of at least one thing to thank God for. Gratitude is a stimulus to prayer. When we see answers to prayer, we will pray more. He’s given us so many things. Listen to how Paul puts his own preaching into practice in the Book of Colossians:
1:3: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.”
1:12: “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
2:7: “Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
3:15-17: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
More on this next week,,,