Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
Here is a call to prayer to be taken seriously. Too often, however, Christians hear the call to pray as a burdensome, guilt-inducing obligation. This is not the tone of Paul’s words in Colossians 4:2, if we hear them in their context. This call to pray near the end of Paul’s letter balances his account of his own praying as the letter began (as we have seen on recent Sunday mornings). His persistent praying was motivated by the wonder of God’s work in the world through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – particularly there in Colossae. For this reason he was constantly thanking God (Colossians 1:3) and praying (1:9) for the believers in Colossae.
Likewise the believers in that town (and we as well) are being called, not just to pray, but to know and appreciate God’s wonderful work in the world, and in our own lives through the Lord Jesus Christ – and therefore to devote ourselves to prayer.
“Being watchful in it” underlines this point. Jesus had urged his disciples to be alert to the times in which they lived, and the work of God in their midst (see Mark 13:35-37; 14:37). This is a special kind of wakefulness. It is seeing life and the world in the brilliant light of what God has done, is doing and will yet do through Jesus Christ. The call to pray is a call to be alert like that.
“With thanksgiving” reminds us (and we need reminding) that the whole Christian life is meant to be energized, not by guilt, but by thankfulness. This includes our commitment to pray.
We are encouraged to pray with a clear vision of God’s work in the world and a thankful heart for all that he has done for us.
(Acting Senior Minister)