Bible Reading: Colossians 4:2-6
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2 - NIV)
Shortly and succinctly, Paul and Timothy leave practical applications for the Colossian church, which are simplistic yet full of depth. Three of them relate to prayer. Two of them speak of our conduct towards those outside the church. Paul and Timothy have already discoursed the conduct Christians ought to share in Colossians 3:12-17.
In three imperatives, Paul and Timothy exhort the importance and necessity of prayer. Prayer is the grounds of our Christian life. God is the only one who can change our hearts. He is the only one that can work to advance His kingdom and His glory in the church and us. Our whole life, faith and ministry are solely dependent on God. He is the vine, and we are the branches. A branch without its vine has no nutrients and is bound to wither. Without Christ, our lives will also cease. There is no way we can grow spiritually. There is no way we can serve God to expand His Kingdom. Without Christ, our life is in vain because we will continue to live in our sins for ourselves.
Paul and Timothy knew this, so they commanded, “devote yourselves to prayer” or in the ESV, “continue steadfastly in prayer”. Make prayer our prime duty. Make it the stem and root of our lives. Bring all things in prayer to God. Humble yourself before Him.
Concerning prayer, there are two things mentioned here - “being watchful and thankful”. Jesus tells His disciples to “watch and pray that [they] may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Pray to be at watch. We are always apt to fall back into our sins. Pray for changed hearts, for the mortification of sin and the clothing of holiness. Pray that God works personally in your life and that God strengthens you to put to death your old self and put on your new self in Christ.
In prayer, we must also learn to give thanks. Thanksgiving is not a natural thing for us. Instead, we love to complain and grumble about the shortcomings in our lives. Our vision is so often clouded by ourselves, our problems, our desires. All that we see and think about is centred around ourselves. Because of that, we miss what it means to be thankful and to realise the countless blessings God has already given us.
Devoting yourself to prayer means devoting yourself to thanksgiving. Are there really things to be thankful for every day?
First and foremost, we ought to continually thank God for the salvation we have in Christ. His love is so abounding and unfathomable that if we were to ponder it for just a moment, we should be brought into awe and endless praise. The reason we lack such thanksgiving is that we do not know God’s love for us. Ask that He will reveal it more and more to us every day that we can praise Him more and more.
Apart from that, we should continually thank God for His providence that works all things for our good. If we wake up this morning, God has a plan for our lives today. Each day, God is working to craft us into a masterpiece that is pleasing to Him. Sometimes, He rebukes our sins. Sometimes He sends hard times. Sometimes they are full of pure joy. All in all, we must rejoice and give thanks because God is good, and His love continually blankets us, working in ways we do not understand.
We must also give thanks for the privileges God has given us. It is a profound privilege to be able to hear God’s Word daily. It is a profound privilege to be part of His true church, surrounded by brothers and sisters who can encourage and build one another. It is a profound privilege to serve God and be used as part of God’s master plan of salvation. Give thanks to God because He loves you, and He loves His church.
When we give thanks, God turns our eyes to be directed to Him and His goodness. God pulls us out of our pit of selfishness and despair where we pity ourselves. God teaches us to see and know that He is good, and He rebukes us of our selfishness that has grumbled for our problems and ignored God’s goodness that encompasses us always.
How often do you pray in a day? Have you ever set aside time to pray to God and just let your heart out to Him? Have you been watchful and thankful in your prayers? Do you want to learn together, God’s will for us to pray?
Lord, please teach me how to pray. Teach me what it means to pray and why it is so necessary. Shape in me a heart that is reliant only on You. Teach me to be watchful against sin and temptation. Only you can help me do that. Teach me also to give thanks. Thank You that I am in Christ. Thank You that You loved me so much to die in my place to offer me eternal life. Thank You that I may know You and can walk in Your loving providence day by day. In Jesus’ name, amen.