The Expository Files

 

 Pray For Us

Colossians 4:2-4


"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile, praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak," Col. 4:2-4 (NKJ).

It is not unexpected that the apostle Paul would urge Christians in Colossae to pray, and to "continue steadfastly in prayer." They were people who had been buried with Christ in baptism (see Col. 2:12), and "raised with Christ," to seek those things which are above (see Col. 3:1).

Such people enjoy the benefit of praying to God. Those who abide in Christ are able to speak to God through Him, for forgiveness, to express praise and gratitude and to ask for help. No surprise, therefore, that Paul would urge them to participate in this great benefit. In another place he said, "pray without ceasing," (1 Thess. 5:17).

Paul goes further telling them to be "vigilant" in prayer, "with thanksgiving." The idea of vigilance involves awareness, being on the alert; the older versions may use the word "watchful." This is not exclusively a reference to physical vision (though it may involve physical vision). This is more about one's awareness. Are you aware of all that should be included in prayer? Are you alert to your needs and the needs of others when you pray? And, do you always include "thanksgiving?" I fear our prayers sometimes may tend to demand and ask, more than praise and thank. We ought to be vigilant in our prayers. Before prayer - during prayer - after prayer, our mind should be aware of God's care for us and our need to speak to Him and accept His answers.

What may be unexpected in this passage is, Paul asks the Colossians to pray for him and his co-workers: "praying also for us." There may be some perception that the apostles had such privilege and status, they somehow stood above the needs of others. That would be incorrect. The apostles were men of like passions as other Christians. While they were designated communicators of the Lord's will (inspired and gifted for the tasks), they had no special spiritual elevation. They were tempted, capable of weakness and fatigue and faced the challenges we all face, doing what is right here on the earth. They needed the prayers of the saints! Do you pray for gospel preachers? They need it.

Here's what Paul specified about his need: "that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." This is an interest in opportunity. Paul wanted to have open doors, through which the gospel would be delivered. He believed God would respond to the prayers of the saints and act in His wise providence to open those doors. Based on this, we ought to understand - the work of preaching is more than just the delivery of information by humans (which may involve travel, etc.). God has a hand in the process. God is able to open doors and His people should petition Him for the success of gospel preached, evidenced in changed hearts and lives.

But observe further this meaningful phrase: "as I ought to speak." Paul wanted them to pray to God that he would speak effectively. In addition to content, Paul wanted God's help in delivery. It is one thing to give the facts as they are. It is another to give them in good order, with appropriate passion and with challenge to the hearer to act. Paul had an interests in everything about the process of preaching. He wanted God's help to open the door, and he wanted God's help in effectively delivering the gospel.

Everything in this passage highlights the value of prayer in association with preaching the gospel. If we ask God to help us in various earth-limited endeavors, how much more should we ask Him to guide and direct our efforts to get the gospel into the doors around the world.

 

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 15.7; July 2008

 

 

 

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