At the beginning of Colossians 4, Paul is instructing us on how to talk to God about people and how to talk to people about God. We do not have a more important ministry than our prayer ministry. All other ministries are powerless apart from prayer! You have heard it said, “When you sing you get what singing can do. When you preach you get what preaching can do. When you teach you get what teaching can do. But when you pray you get what God can do!” Colossians 4:2 begins, “Devote yourselves to prayer….” Being devoted means wholeheartedly, not half-hearted. It means to continually and steadfastly pray without ceasing. We need more than a prayer list we need a prayer life! We must take prayer seriously and not casually. Paul gives us four marks of devoted prayer.
“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert…” (v. 2). We wrestle not against flesh and blood. We must win the war spiritually. Do you know who are the devoted and alert prayer warriors? Parents who have a son or daughter in the military or warzone. Peter also gave the instruction to stay alert in 1 Peter 4:7. And 1 Peter 5:8-9 he says, “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.” All believers have the same struggles. We are tempted by the world around us, the flesh within us, and the devil who is against us. Jesus said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” You cannot watch without praying and you cannot pray without watching.
“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving” (v. 2). Don’t ask for more until you thank God for what you have. Have an attitude of gratitude. Start and end your day with thanksgiving. Give thanks before every meal. Say “thank you” to people. Psalm 100 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (v. 4-5). First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” You might be saying, “I feel like a hypocrite giving thanks when I don’t feel like it.” We do not live the Christian life on feelings but on faith. If we obey God, the sincerity and feelings will follow. We walk by faith and not by sight. It does not say thank God for all things but in all things.
In verses 3-5, Paul asks the Colossians to pray for an open door to share Christ. He also admonishes them to act wisely toward outsiders. Someone said, “The purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth.” Prayer is not telling God what to do. It is asking God to do what He desires to do and only He can do. God is the God of the open door. He opens doors no man can shut and shuts doors no man can open. Paul did not ask them to pray him out of prison like I would have! Paul asked for doors of ministry to be opened. He prayed for God to use his imprisonment. There are only two kids of people in the world. Those in Christ and those outside Christ. We are all born outsiders. How do you turn outsiders into insiders? Let your light shine. Pray for open doors, open hearts, and open eyes. Act wisely. We are here for those who are not yet here. Are you making the most of the opportunities God gives you?
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” Our world desperately needs to see Christians who are civil. Speak the truth in love. It is embarrassing how some Christians and some pastors speak on social media. Our speech is to minister grace to the hearer. The world does not care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is possible to win an argument and lose a soul.
Prayer is the difference between what you and I can do and what God can do. If we want to accomplish things of eternal value and live a victorious Christian life, we must be people devoted to prayer.