Hey everybody, Joe Svoboda here and ready to think through some of Colossians chapter 4 with you today.
As I was reading through this chapter, what stood out to me particularly was verse 2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
Now being steadfast carries with it a notion of intentional drive, a sort of habitual adherence or persistence. So, what does it look like to “Continue steadfastly in prayer”? As best as I can tell, it means there are going to be aspects of prayer that are arduous, tiresome and marked by temptation to cut it short. Although duration of prayer for duration’s sake is of no value, nevertheless, if you are anything like me, sometimes truly entering into a time of prayer isn’t so easy.
I wonder, what do you think the purpose of prayer is? Is it not to take advantage of a miraculous relationship opened to us by the blood of Jesus? Is it not a place of intimate connection with the one who adopted us? But how often do our prayers sound more like leaving a message on God’s cosmic answering machine than an authentic conversation with the Creator of the universe that lives within. Far too often the noise of my day and the fullness of my schedule rob me of prayer. But more than that, when I do sit down to pray, I fail to push through the clutter of my mind and connect with God as He longs to. In other words, I fail to continue steadfastly in prayer which is what I think Paul is getting at here.
Let’s look at the next part of the verse. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it….” Being watchful is kind of a strange way to describe a mindset of prayer. What in the world does Paul mean be watchful? Being watchful itself means being alert, vigilant, and expectant. It means paying attention but to what? Personally, I think this means being in a posture to receive or notice something. Here’s what I believe, I believe God wants to talk with us, show us things, teach us, encourage us, and even correct us. Our faith is in a God who has not made Himself distant, on the contrary, He has done everything in His power to make available to us a supernaturally intimate relationship. Relationships hinge on communication and connection. The questions is, do we treat our time of prayer as a place to receive or just a place to speak? In the Gospel According to John chapter 14 verse 26, Jesus tells us that “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Well, if the Holy Spirit is going to teach but we are not willing to listen, how well are we going to learn? The Spirit has an important role in prayer, even helping us to pray (check out Romans 8:26-27). The point here is that Paul is encouraging us to be in a posture of expectancy. There is a God who wants to connect with us and to communicate with us but too often our habit is just to speak and not to listen. We don’t expect to receive anything and to no surprise many of us don’t.
Ok ok ok, so what do we do with this verse? First, I would like to encourage all of us to schedule times of daily prayer, even throughout the day for this coming week. These don’t have to be long and drawn out. Just mark out 10-15 minutes 3 times a day. Secondly, come to that time with a resoluteness to continue in that prayer steadfastly and not to be distracted or deterred. Thirdly, reserve 5 minutes of that prayer time for what some call, “listening prayer”. Just ask the Lord if there is anything He would like to talk to you about. Keep a journal next to you and expect to receive. He may say something or He may not. Either way, you should be ready for when He does. Write down anything that pops to mind. Sometimes things you think are insignificant or random turn out to be much more.
Paul exhorts us to practice these things, expectant that we will receive and expectant that God will move. Certainly Paul’s life is testament to these truths, don’t you think? Let us press on to do likewise then, listening closely to all that He has to say to us and being thankful for such an incredible opportunity to be His child.