2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And 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. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6, NIV)
One of the spiritual disciplines a Christian should cultivate is prayers. Prayer enables us to build a relationship with our Father in Heaven who loves us.
When Apostle Paul wrote this letter, it was meant for the church at Colossae. It seemed that the Christians at Colossae were on the verge of losing their understanding of the power by which the Christian life is lived. Paul wrote this letter to encourage them as well as to remind them that there is power and joy as Christians.
Paul’s prayer for the Christians is that they might be strengthened according to God’s glorious might. Paul was in the prison when he was writing this. Being in the prison did not discourage him. He was still joyful because he himself had been strengthened by God.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (verse 2)
Devote ourselves to prayer means we priority prayers regardless of the circumstances. The situation around us does not dictate our joy. Regardless of whatever the circumstances, there is something that we can be thankful for. Make a commitment to pray because prayer connects us to God, our the source of joy and strength.
(1) Prayers Change Things
One of the comments we often hear is this: why do we pray when God is in control? Why do we still need to pray if God already knows everything?
God is not a robot that will do what He is programmed. God is a compassionate God, Who is slow to anger and abounding in love (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8). In various accounts in the Bible, we see that God will change His mind when His people prayed.
For example, Exodus 32 tells us Moses was up in the mountain to be with the Lord. That was when he received the tablet of the 10 Commandments from the Lord. The Israelites saw that Moses had not return to them so they gathered around Aaron and demanded Aaron to make a golden calf from the gold jewellery they had so they could worship it and said this golden calf brought them out of Egypt. They worshipped it and offered sacrifices to it. God was so angry with them that He wanted to destroy these rebellious people. But Moses found favour with God and so, Moses talked to God and asked for His mercy upon the Israelites. Then, God changed His mind and not destroy the people. Verse 14 of Exodus 32 tells us, “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
Another example is found in Jonah. God sent Jonah to the great city of Nineveh. It was a very large city and the people were wicked. God wanted to destroy the city and so He sent Jonah to warn the people there. The king and the people of Nineveh heard God’s warning and they repented. The people fasted and prayed and repented. “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10)
Prayers will change the course of events. God will change His mind when His people come to Him in prayers. Apostle Paul reminds us that we are partners with God.
“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9) We partner with God. He is not a task master that orders us to do His assignments but He is merciful and compassionate.
As God’s co-workers, it is our responsibility to pray. May God have mercy and hear our prayers for our nation.
(2) Prayer transforms us
When we pray, we move closer to the heart of God. We will see clearly what God loves and know what God hates. We will then begin to care about the things He care about, to love the things He loves and to hate the things He hates. It is not about me anymore but we will think about our action and consequences whether they are they pleasing to God.
Prayer is life changing. It changes our lives. Prayer allows God to transform us. James 4:3, we ask but we do not received because we ask with the wrong motives. Prayer is also a way God is shaping us and molding our character to be more like His Son, Jesus and to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
Apostle Paul urged the Christians that there should be transformation in our lives as followers of Christ.
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV)
Prayers change our behaviour. We also pray so that we will be wise when we live our lives in the society so that we can give glory to God. Prayer helps us to seize opportunity to be good witnesses for the Lord. Prayer changes the language we use towards others and towards ourselves. We don’t use language or words that accused and condemn others but our conversation will be full of grace, edifying, uplifting and encouraging wherever we are: at home, in school, at the workplace or in the society.
Prayers let us know the heart of God so that we can answer people about the God Whom we love and serve.
(3) Prayer is a journey
My dad loves to watch boxing matches. The boxers did not jump into the ring to fight without training. They did not just train for a day and then compete in the championship. They trained for a long time. Singers do not record music without musical training. They too had been undergoing training for a long time before recording music in the studio.
Same goes with prayer. It is a journey. It is a learning process. We will not be able to pray immediately. We need time to learn to pray. The more we pray, the more we will know how to pray. The more we pray, the more we will know the character of God. Don’t be discouraged if you think you don’t know how to pray yet. Think about your own children. When they first learn how to speak, you don’t get upset because they can not talk to you well yet. You will be overjoyed if they speak the first vowel because they are learning to communicate with you. Because they can’t talk very well yet, that does not mean you love them less. You know it will take time for them to learn words. You know it will take time for them to have a conversation with you which you can understand.
God is our Father in Heaven. He is delighted that you, His beloved child, come to Him in prayer. Prayer is heart to heart conversation with God.
Let us devote ourselves to prayer. Prayer is communion with God. Prayer is to know the heartbeat of God. Prayer changes things. Prayer transforms us. Prayer is a journey. Let us go deeper into prayer and experience more of His grace, love, provision and strength.