2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 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— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. ESV
This short but powerful passage admonishes you to devote yourself to praying. If you don’t consider yourself a prayer warrior, then begin moving in that direction today, for that is your Father’s desire for you. This verse goes on to tell you how to persevere in prayer. As you incorporate watchfulness and thankfulness into your praying, you will become more steadfast. Let’s consider how you can live out this verse.
Your heavenly Father, because he loves you with an unwavering devotion, longs for you to become more and more dedicated to him. He definitely wants the relationship to go both ways. He tells you in v2 to persevere in prayer because that is how you will deepen your relationship with him. He longs for your love and your loyalty.
What comes to your mind when you read, Continue steadfastly in prayer? How about, Devote yourselves to prayer? What would your life look like if others described you as a follower of Jesus who is devoted to praying?
It’s not that you have to become a monk and go live in some monastery. Persevering in prayer doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in Bible study and prayer every day. Being steadfast means you are continually talking with your Father in the heavens about the things that are important to both of you. You should have some times during the week, preferably daily, when you can be alone in a quiet place, so that you can spend quality time praying, reading and listening to your Father. The more practical side of continuing steadfastly in prayer is having prayer “texts” with your Father throughout the day. Flare praying when you need his help or when you want to thank him for the grace he just gave you is steadfast praying.
In 3:1-2, you were taught to seek first the things that are above, where Jesus is reigning, by fixing your mind on the realities of his kingdom. Praying continually is precisely how you focus your thinking on Jesus’ kingdom. Having short conversations with your Father throughout the day is how you obey 3:1-2. By being steadfast and devoted to praying you are seeking Jesus’ will first and you are setting your mind on what matters to him. The way to seek first the things above is to talk to the One who is above!
The Spirit led Paul to describe how you can continue faithfully praying to your Father. You do it by being watchful and thankful. Pause for a moment and consider how being alert and thankful may help your praying. Being watchful is a metaphor that means to give strict attention to praying while being actively cautious. The idea is that you must be thoughtful and fully aware that your natural tendency is to not be attentive to your need for frequent prayer. Your man-made proclivity is to allow the Me Monster within to run the show. Instead, the Spirit wants to inspire you to be aware of your need for his involvement.
To be watchful in praying to the Father means you are alert to when you need God’s help. Being watchful is to recognize that if you don’t ask for the Father’s wisdom and insights, you will not respond in the best way. Results will be less than excellent. When you don’t know how to respond or react, be observant that you need your Father’s help. When you ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (1:9) and to strengthen you with all power according to his glorious might (1:11), you are being focused and alert. The more you ask the more observant you will become.
Continuing faithfully in prayer is not only to be done attentively, it is to be done with a thankful heart. You will grow in your devotion to the Lord as you become more appreciative of his grace in your life. One of the best ways to deepen your relationship with the Father is to begin to look for things to thank him for. Renew your thinking by paying attention to the wonders of his creation, from the beauty of nature to the diversity of people. You are continuing steadfastly in prayer when you thank him that you avoided an accident, that someone sent you a kind text, that your lab results came back negative, and most importantly, that he chose to make you his son or daughter.
Try this. Only thank God today. Don’t ask him to do anything. As you go through your day (or night), thank him for everything that comes to mind. Ask him to help you to realize all of the good that he has brought about in your life. Begin to do this more and more and you will soon develop an attitude of gratitude that will also fuel your desire to pray.
Continual and steadfast praying is kind of like texting. You don’t spend your entire day texting, unless you’re a high schooler! But you have your phone, your network and your friend’s number, so you have the ability to text anytime you want. When something good or funny happens, don’t you want to share it with someone close to you? And when something disappointing occurs, you need to be consoled by a friend. Your Father loves you so much more than anyone on earth so move towards him during your busy day by having short conversations, prayer texts. You will find that as you ask, he will give you the wisdom and insights to respond in ways that make both of you smile. You will experience an inner empowerment to be able to stand on your convictions and not cave in, even when everyone around you falls for the rational lies. By increasing your text-time with your Father, you will most definitely deepen your devotion to him.
It’s a fact. We all need God’s help. That’s why Paul asked the members of Colossae Community Church to pray for God to open doors for him to teach about Christ in a clear and compelling way. That church must have devoted themselves to praying for Paul because God certainly opened many doors. Look at how wide a door this letter came to be! Millions have heard Paul’s teaching from its pages. That’s the power of asking God according to his will.
Ask the same thing for your pastors and others in vocational ministry. All of us are to be ready to tell others about our faith in Jesus in a clear and compelling way. But for those who are ministering vocationally, they have the full-time job of declaring the mystery of Christ and certainly need to remain filled with the full knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and all spiritual understanding. Pray this request for yourself, your friends, your church members and especially for your pastors and leaders.
- Use your regular schedule of activities during the day or night, like commuting, break, lunch, before meetings, after conference calls, before answering emails, etc. to build into your life the habit of continual, devoted praying. Use the Kingdom Come Prayers as your prayer-texts.
- During your devotional time, use Jesus’ outline for praying as your guide from Luke 11:1-4. Also read vs5-13 to learn what Jesus taught about persistence and the gift your Father loves to give.