Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 8 2013 - Colossians 3:18-4:18 – Devote yourselves to prayer

Yesterday we noted that the resurrection life is to be lived relationally; we are to live well with others and to be mediators of the blessings of God in Christ. Paul underlines this point by mentioning a number of relationships: husband and wife; parents and children; slaves and masters. Paul knows that his readers have to live within the social structures of their own time and culture but he encourages them to transform every relationship through the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience of Christ. In all that they say and do, Christians are to act as servants of their Master in heaven.

It’s in this same spirit that Paul encourages the Colossians saying, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Colossians 4:2). Prayer lifts our eyes to our heavenly Father so that we see afresh the abundant riches of the blessings he has poured out upon us in Jesus Christ. Prayer feeds a spirit of thankfulness just as thankfulness should find expression in prayer.

And prayer is essential to the resurrection life to which we are called. Jesus told his disciples to "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matthew 26:41, cf. Mark 14:38; Luke 21:36). The only way to keep a watch over our lives and to stand firm in moments of temptation and testing is through continual prayer. In ourselves we do not have the ability to live consistently and entirely for Christ; we need the enabling that comes from the Spirit of God and from our all-conquering Saviour. Prayer is an expression of dependence and is the source of help and strength. Be watchful in prayer.

Prayer is essential to the life of discipleship; it is an expression both of our need and of God's ability not simply to meet our needs but to bless us beyond our asking or imagination.

But prayer is not just about me – not even just about me and God. Paul goes on to ask the Colossians to "pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should" (4:3-4). Jesus taught us to pray that God's kingdom might come. Prayer is to be kingdom focused even as it must have its focus in King Jesus. Prayer is an expression of the longing and expectation that the kingdom of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and that he will reign for ever and ever. Prayer is vital to the extension of the kingdom – and not just in a general way, but by praying for specific ministries and specific people.

Paul not only calls the Christians in Colossae to be faithful in prayer, he assures them that others are praying for them. Epaphras, who was from Colossae and had been instrumental in founding the church there “is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured”, says Paul (4:12). And Paul had begun the letter with the assurance that he and his team have not stopped praying for the Christians at Colossae, always thanking God for them and asking God to fill them with his Spirit (see 1:3-12).

It’s a great privilege and joy not only to have access to God in prayer but also to pray for one another. Prayer is foundational to the work of the kingdom and to the growth, maturity and influence of the people of God.

Lord, teach us to pray – teach us to wrestle in prayer. Keep us mindful of one another, constant in prayer and full of thanksgiving as we look for and work towards the coming of your kingdom.

Peter Misselbrook