Saturday, October 1, 2022

Continue In Prayer

Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

This final chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians closes out with final instructions, and a detailed sign off mentioning others in service to Christ Jesus with the writer.

This closing of the Epistle is a touching tribute to the many at Colossae, and the affection Paul feels towards them, and towards his fellow laborers. In welcoming others to the ministry at Colossae, it’s like Paul want the church there to be introduced to others who will share God’s eternal kingdom with them ahead of time. Other Epistles mention some of his ministerial helpers and all the Epistles together make us realize how widespread Paul’s outreach had become.

As we will have gone through the entire Epistle by the end of today, there is no mistaking the similarities of those societies in Asia are to our own today. And therefore, his final encouragement to pray is for every reader that has read this Epistle since it was written, and published to the Church as a whole, for the Body of Christ is knit together in ways we can only imagine.

We’re praying for many: for salvation, for illness and diseases, for our daily bread, and for dozens of our loved ones. We are praying for people in Florida that have just gone through a natural disaster. And the Bible’s encouragement to “pray without ceasing,” brings our focus to the importance of prayer. Lifting the names of believers, and non-believers, of friends, family, and strangers up before the Throne of Grace takes on a renewed sense of importance for them, and for us. For us because we will be obedient to God’s Word, and for them that some might be strengthen in faith or brought into the kingdom.

Jesus is recorded to have prayed often in the Gospels. He prayed for Himself, for the Apostles, and for them that would come to faith by the testimony of the Apostles. Jesus’ words carry a power all their own as His prayers are heard by the Father. Prayer is foundational to the Church, and a means by which the Father hears us too.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word:” ~ John 17:20
Jesus prayed for us!

Today's Audio Message:
Colossians 4:1-18 - "Continue In Prayer"


As we finish up the book of Colossians, Paul leaves us with some final instructions:

Devote yourselves to prayer, be persistent, be watchful and be thankful.

1. Persistence.  "Continue in" (KJV) is proskartereō, "to persist in something," here, "busy oneself with, be busily engaged in, be devoted to," from pros, "on, at"+ kartereō, "be steadfast, endure."

It's easy to skip times of prayer, to rush over our devotional time because we're so busy, but the Bible tells us we should be busy WITH prayer. Be persistent.  Make prayer a regular part of your daily life.   We have a spiritual enemy who tries to distract us from talking to God. But Paul highlights prayer's importance: persist in prayer, be devoted to it!

Prayer is an essential aspect of our spiritual life. It is a meaningful time essential to our relationship with Jesus. Devotion to our prayer time is a long haul of intercession. It is speaking to the Father about the daily things we encounter, and the long-term burdens we carry.

2. Alertness.  "Watch" (KJV) is grēgoreō, "to stay awake, be watchful," then figuratively as here, "to be in constant readiness, be on the alert."  The verb comes from egrēgora, "to have been roused from sleep, to be awake," the perfect of egeirō, "wake, arouse" someone from sleep.

Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? I have!  Maybe bedtime isn’t the best time for our regular prayer time. C.S. Lewis once wrote: “No one in his senses, if he has any power of ordering his own day, would reserve his chief prayers for bedtime – obviously the worst possible hour for any action which needs concentration.”

But Paul is not just talking about wakefulness here but watchfulness, being alert – watching over your own life with prayer, watching over the people around you in prayer, being alert to opportunities and how your life affects your witness. 
We can go through the motions of prayer without having our minds really engaged. Paul urges attention to what we're doing. This is not just a mindless exercise. It is communication with the Most High God.

3. Thankfulness. "Thanksgiving" (KJV) is eucharistia, "the expression or content of gratitude, the rendering of thanks, thanksgiving," from which we get our English word "Eucharist."  

And then Paul says we should be thankful. Paul continues to sound the note of thanksgiving in this letter. In fact, this is the seventh time in four chapters that Paul has mentioned thankfulness. (Colossians 1:3,12; 2:7; 3:15,16,17; 4:2

Thanksgiving is essential to keep prayer fresh and alive, to staying alert! Remember Paul is in prison as he writes these words. And if Paul could be thankful in prison, we can remember to be thankful in prayer. We should be persistent, watchful and thankful in prayer.

Next Paul reminds us of how we should act toward nonbelievers.

We must walk in wisdom. This alone is such an important ingredient to a relationship with a nonbeliever. Those outside the faith are watching your life, watching to see if your testimony of Jesus is true. In other words, when we live no different from the world (without wisdom) we give nonbelievers solid reasoning as to why they don’t need Jesus. It sends a message to them that Christianity is fake and powerless. People of all different depths of spiritual maturity are watching us and taking note of how we live.

Next, Paul writes about seasoning our speech. To season something is to sprinkle another ingredient to the food that adds a whole new flavor to the dish. With speech, Paul encourages both grace and salt. Think of it in terms of grace and truth. These two components working together make a powerful combination. 
Our words and the way we communicate them are important. As believers, our words should reflect to others the truth of the gospel. They should reveal how this gospel has transformed our lives. Our words should impact our conversations for the better as we bring a different “flavor” to our interactions, build others up, and share as well as defend the gospel. The content and tone of our words should impact those around us for the better, especially unbelievers.

Jesus did all this perfectly. He was wise in his conduct and he was full of grace and truth. People loved to be around Him. They flocked to Him! 
Paul turns from practical teaching to personal comments, as he winds down his letter. He lists all those who helped him along the way in the ministry. A great reminder of the fellowship of believers, and that we work together in the ministry...we are not alone. Paul didn’t do it all alone either. He had plenty of help and encouragement along the way. Each of these men had different gifts and callings but were all of one mind in Christ our Lord.

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