Praying the Good News of Jesus (Colossians 4:2-4) Part 3
‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 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. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4: 2-4)
Over the past few weeks we have looked at Jesus, being the true focus for our lives here on this earth (and with eyes upward to Heaven also) and therefore the impact this should have on how we do our daily lives with those in our household and beyond. We do this by being in the Word (v16), but now Paul instructs us to be equipped by also praying. We are in a relationship with our Father, and we are called and instructed to talk to him.
We all have relationships in our lives. Whether that is being a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie, a niece, a friend. Due to our current circumstance of the Corona virus our relationships have potentially been tested as we have been cut off from many of the people (friends, family, colleagues) that we would normally see and socialise with. I don’t know about you, but I find that hard. Where I would normally take for granted that I would see certain people for play-dates, birthdays, at church on a Sunday or a bible study on a Monday, Wednesday or whenever it is you meet, this has been cut off. The physical meeting of people has had to stop. And I’ve hated it. I’m incredibly close to my sister so not seeing her has been tough. I’ve missed my niece’s 1st birthday and my sister had a potentially devastating accidently when she fell down the stairs holding her baby. I wanted to be there physically to support her and the family, but this virus has meant we haven’t been able to. But my relationship with her and the family and my friends who I would meet with for bible study or play-dates, hasn’t changed. Why? Because, thank God(!) we live in a day and age where we can talk to each other. Whether it is by Zoom or text message or a phone call or even by… Post (who has enjoyed receiving or sending good old snail-mail over this time?). If anything it has made me appreciate the relationships more and I’ve wanted to invest time into communication, especially because I cannot see them…
Enter Paul with his wise imperative and to deepen our relationship with the MOST important one above all. Paul delights in his relationship with God and he wants us to do the same. He tells us how to pray and what to pray. He starts the verse by telling us to ‘devote’. It means to give all or most of our time to something/someone. Oh! A challenge straight away at the first word in the verse. This is to be steadfast and persistent. We will always give time to what we think is important. It will be effortless,it will be intentional. As we are a changed people because of Jesus, prayerfulness will be motivated by the response to God’s grace (Col 3:16-17). Are we being intentional to pray to grow our relationship with Jesus? In Romans 12:12, Paul says that we should be, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, [and] devoted to prayer.” We can be thankful in our prayers in any circumstance, because we are thankful for the gift of salvation and that Jesus accomplished everything at the cross for us.
We are told to be watchful prayers too. To be alert in our prayers. To be equipped. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God (I’d encourage you to read it out loud and imagine putting on what it tells us… It gets us ready for the very real battle we face spiritually – daily!).
Peter tells us to be on alert for the devil is ready to devour us like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8). If we are complacent and drop our spiritual weapons (prayer and the Word) it is far easier for the enemy to attack and defeat. We are called to be on guard and prayerful and alert, so when he attacks, we are ready. But Jesus himself warns of our weakness and why we should be alert in our prayers also, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41).
So what do we pray for? Pray for God’s kingdom to expand through the spread of the gospel. Notice how Paul, although in prison, he is wanting to spread the ‘mystery of Christ’ (not that it is mysterious, but how it once was hidden and now has been revealed): the good news! He isn’t reflecting on the depravity of the situation he is in, but is Heaven focused. This doesn’t mean we cannot come to God in prayer with the small details of our life, he cares about those. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Yet, the primary focus for Paul isn’t self focused, but Jesus focused and this means spreading the gospel. So we too can pray for this. For those on the frontline of spreading the good news of Jesus around the world but also for ourselves too, as we evangelise with friends, family and colleagues in our own mission fields. Paul is also asking for those opportunities of ‘open doors’ (v3), but he recognises it is not in his strength. It is God who opens the door and we are the ones to walk through it and seize the opportunities to share the gospel. In Romans it says, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.’ (1:16) It is our duty out of love for God and love for the truth that we share the gospel which will enable people to hear of salvation and therefore turn to God.
Finally, Paul asks for clarity in his talk, ‘Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should’ (Col 4:4). Clarity in presenting the gospel to those who are yet to hear and understand the message of Christ. The gospel is no longer a mystery, but a clear message (Col 1:26) and he wants to share this without confusion and complication. The Word of God, is clearly his treasure. Is it our treasure? Are we as keen to protect it and therefore pass it on to those around us and beyond?
Let’s pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul.
Questions for reflection
1) Paul leads by example when it comes to praying. What are the main ways Paul reveals to us when it comes to HOW to pray? WHAT are the key things he prays for?
2) Despite the costs involved, why can we be confident when we share the gospel with others? (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2: 8-9)
3) How can we devote ourselves to prayer? What practical things can we put in place to ensure we do this?
Our team is praying for you as you get with your study buddies to dig through these treasures in His Word. See you next week!