Paul is closing up his epistle to the Colossians and giving some final thoughts. Much of them seem to be centered on prayer. This is appropriate because as usual I need an encouraging reminder about prayer. Admittedly, I do not pray well. I know a lot about prayer. I can even say a prayer that sounds impressive. But I do not pray well. Or more specifically I do not take the time to pray as I think I should. Notice that I did not say “as I ought.” Prayer is not something I ought to do it is something I get to do. And I don’t take advantage of the opportunities that I have to approach God’s throne of grace.
So here are a few things Paul mentions about prayer in this closing chapter of Colossians. Perhaps they will encourage you to pray well. Perhaps they will encourage me to pray.
Continue steadfastly in prayer (v.2) – This is the ESV version. The NIV says, “devote yourselves to prayer.” What I hear Paul saying is that even when you don’t feel like praying, pray. Prayer is the best antidote to prayerlessness. Billy Graham once said,
“Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one bothered to ask.”
being watchful (v.2) – This would seem to indicate that there is a key aspect of prayer that has nothing to do with talking to God. There are two times that Jesus used the phrase “watch and pray.” Matt 26:41 and Luke 21:36. There should be an alertness in prayer that is often missing in my prayer life. An alertness to what God is saying in the Word. An alertness to what God is doing in the world. An alertness to how God is orchestrating the circumstances of my life.
with thanksgiving (v.2) – This is probably the thing I am best at when it comes to prayer. I am very grateful to the Lord for the many many ways that my life has been blessed.
And pray for us… (v.3) – I always find it interesting what Paul prays for or asks prayer for. Usually very different from what I ask for. In this case, even though he is in prison, in less than ideal circumstances, he is asking for prayer that he might have opportunities to share the gospel and that he might do so very clearly.
Epaphras…always struggling on your behalf in his prayers (v.12) – The NIV uses the word “wrestling.” That is not a word that would be used to describe my prayer life. I say prayers. I have much to learn about what it means to wrestle in prayer on behalf of others. One of my favorite prayer quotes is from John Piper that goes like this:
“You will never know what prayer is for until you know that life is war.”
A lesson I still need to learn. Many lessons here that I still need to learn.
I’ll look forward to pondering with you next year. Enjoy your holidays.